As part of my regular newsletter last week, I asked the question If there was a proposal to change legislation for the use of fireworks, which of these would you prefer?.
As you can see, there is still a huge proportion of people who believe that something needs to change around the use of Fireworks. There is however a clear majority from this survey who think that moving towards organised events would be the way forward.
Last month I joined a debate in Parliament around the use of fireworks and how they are regulated. There is no denying that access to fireworks in the UK is easy and that enforcement of existing legislation is poor. Although many of us have enjoyed firework displays over the last week to celebrate Diwali or to remember the foiled plot to blow up Parliament, many, if not more, are traumatised by fireworks.
Last year, following scores of pieces of correspondence from constituents, I decided to open a public survey so that all my constituents could share their thoughts on fireworks and the impact they have. Some might say it went viral—and I found myself with well over 1 million hits on Facebook and well over a 100,000 survey returns.
We have had many Australian influences on legislation over the years, and perhaps it is time for some more. At present in the UK, there is no legal requirement to have any form of licence or training in order to let off consumer fireworks. Fireworks can be sold at any time of the year and can be bought online. In Australia, it is illegal for someone to buy, possess or discharge fireworks unless they hold a pyrotechnician’s licence or single-use licence. Authorities must be notified of all firework displays, and authorised events can be found using the authorities’ fireworks display search.
I am pleased the Office for Product Safety and Standards has engaged with a wide range of views to develop an evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks including noise, as well as anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This work produces useful data on fireworks which can be used to identify what further action is necessary.
Whatever approach is taken I think it is important to understand that a total ban could lead to an unregulated ‘black market’ in illegal fireworks and could encourage people to produce their own dangerous homemade devices. I want to work with all sides to find a solution that helps safeguard more people, including veterans and people who suffer PTSD as well as protecting animals.
I will continue to stand up for residents and their animals who are suffering each year as a result of fireworks and will work with other MPs to get the right changes to the law as soon as we can.