Tuesday, 13 October 2009


FIREWORKS will go on sale for longer than usual this year. Shops will be able to sell fireworks from Thursday 29 October to Saturday 7 November, giving the public two weekends to stock up for displays. Normally, shops are only allowed to sell fireworks for one week, but Starburst Fireworks managing director James Bevis has been pushing for a change in the rules. This has been agreed by the Constables Committee, which is responsible for governing fireworks sales. Mr Bevis said that sales last year were disastrous because of bad weather leading up to 5 November and the start of the recession. By the time the weather cleared up, it was too late for the public to go out and buy any. (Source: JEP)

I have to comment that this really is appalling for several reasons, one of which is that there seems to have been no public consultation, but just a unilateral decision by the Constables' Committee. As the States produces more consultations to engage with the public, it would perhaps have been good for the Constables' Committee to do likewise.

Other reasons that I would raise:

1) Fireworks after an exceptionally dry summer, with only some wet weather coming on line now, is certainly a recipe for some big fires. All we need is another dryish spell towards the end of October, and the risks will be extreme. Have the fire service been consulted on this change? If the weather is especially dry again, can private sales be banned at short notice?

2) There is always upset to animals and property caused by mischievous people buying fireworks and setting them off all over the place, as soon as they are on sale, and now we are giving two weekends of misery rather than the usual one (and in fact the indiscriminate use of fireworks often continues for at least a week or two after 5th November). There seems to be no way of easily policing these mavericks, as a firework can easily be set off anywhere, the point of origin difficult to trace, and the instigator long gone before any authorities arrive. If the indiscriminate use of fireworks after sale cannot be policed properly, then the sensible option would be to restrict the period of sales.

3) What is more, by bringing the sale back before Halloween, the chances of some of the more maverick "Trick and Treaters" using these will increase. As it is, there are often eggs and flour thrown in some areas. Have the police been consulted about this change?

I think that it is about time fireworks were regulated to proper Parish displays and commercial users, rather than anyone. I find it incredible that you need a licence to have a firearm, yet anyone over 18 can just walk into a shop, and buy high explosive materials, from which - with the use of the internet - it is very easy to create bombs. I cannot see any logic in that at all. Some kind of licencing with a training scheme in the use of fireworks would not only provide extra income for commercial users (who could run the scheme), but also teach the public about proper safety, just as gun use is regulated to proper clubs. Perhaps there should be properly run "firework" clubs?

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