Glasgow councillors continue to push for ban on fireworks

Councillors want there to be stricter legislation around fireworks
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The sooner Glasgow gets “the powers to ban fireworks the better”, a councillor has said, as they spoke about the problems they have caused local communities.

Councillors – some of whom have been campaigning for a ban of firework sales for 15 years – raised concerns about new rules and regulations to restrict the sale of fireworks saying they “didn’t go far enough” for them to help people in their communities. And they raised concerns about how the new rules would be enforced, as an update on the policy was brought before a recent Glasgow City Council environment committee.

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It comes following a public consultation in 2019 which revealed 70% of respondents had been impacted by fireworks in an irresponsible way and 94% thought there should be more control over the sale of them. The Scottish Government then drafted its Fireworks (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations 2021 and by the end of June last year three new measures in relation to the way the general public could use and access fireworks came into effect.

They included a restriction on the times of day fireworks can be used by the general public to between 6pm and 11pm, with the exception of November 5, when they can be used from 6pm until midnight, New Year’s Eve, the night of Chinese New Year and the night of Diwali -when they can be used from 6pm until 1am. It also restricted the times of day fireworks can be supplied to the general public to during daytime hours of 7am and 6pm and limited the quantity of fireworks that can be supplied to the public.

Still to be implemented as part of the Act are firework control zones which give local authorities the power to designate areas where fireworks will only be allowed as part of a public fireworks display, or for business purposes. A report presented to members confirmed that it was unlikely these zones would be in effect for bonfire night 2023.

Labour councillor Paul Carey raised some concerns about policing the zones once they were in place. Councillor Carey said: “I have been promoting a total ban on fireworks, apart from professional events, for 15 years. My concern is that most of the fireworks that I have experienced that people buy online – some of them are about 6ft tall. Who is going to police these zones? You hear people setting off fireworks at 1am in the morning in Glasgow so who is going to police them and how are you going to stop people from buying fireworks online and how are you going to identify who sets them off in the zone? I am struggling with enforcement here because it has been pretty trying and testing in my ward where police have been overstretched to deal with stuff like this.”

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A council spokeswoman said that it would be up to the local authority to designate each firework control zone and they would work closely with Police Scotland and other agencies to do so. She said: “I totally understand your question in relation to how the policing of these zones takes place in practical terms. I certainly don’t want to speak on behalf of another enforcement agency on what their operational plans would be for any given zones. Part of the consultation process would mean we would be in dialogue with all the relative agencies before a zone would be agreed. Online sales is a whole separate area in itself in terms of how you can police online. There are so many difficulties in relation to it.”

Another part of the policy still to be implemented as part of the Act is the restricted days of supply and use of fireworks. The Scottish Government would allow fair and sufficient time for businesses to adapt to this but it has not yet been confirmed which financial year this will start.

Bailie Jim Kavanagh said: “The sooner we get the powers to deal with this the better. In my ward a firework hit a roof and burnt a steel structured house to the ground. Not only that, the adjacent house is in the process of being pulled down. That’s how dangerous fireworks are. We are not talking about the fireworks that we used to use. There are industrial fireworks that are now getting bought, there are places within my ward that sell them. I don’t see anything in the legislation to govern the type of firework that is sold. He added, “The timeframe is totally unenforceable. I understand the reasoning behind it but it’s all about enforcement and getting the reality on the ground of what we can do – not what we would like to do. This is a starting point but it doesn’t come anywhere near what we [councillors] want.”

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