Call for Bonfire Night to be banned in debate about fireworks
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A councillor has called for Bonfire Night to be banned during a debate about fireworks.
Cllr Alan Speake was one of several Carmarthenshire councillors who said fireworks were getting noisier and more powerful, leaving animals and people distressed.
A motion calling for more regulation of firework displays and noise limits on fireworks which were sold for private use was passed unanimously at a meeting of full council.
Cllr Speake said he felt the situation was getting out of hand, and that councils should have more powers to intervene.
He criticised the use of fireworks on Remembrance Sunday and their potential effect on ex-servicemen, and claimed many people were afraid to complain.
He added: “Bonfire Night, I think, that should be banned because that’s political, it’s religious, and a lot of things happen – especially down in Kent and down in parts of England.
“Even today they carry a big statue of previous religious people ready to be burned. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
“It’s 2020, mun, and they’re still going on with that.”
Cllr Kevin Madge said fireworks seemed to be let off into the sky for several weeks in the year these days, including Christmas.
He said: “In the past we have had the fifth of November, and that was it.”
Cllr Madge said exploding fireworks had sent his ducks cowering for shelter in their shed, while scaring his cat and dog.
Letting off fireworks on Remembrance Sunday, he added, was “out of order”.
Cllr Ken Lloyd said he was worried about the effect of firework “booms” on war veterans, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who may have witnessed “killings and massacres”.
He said: “What must they think when they hear this almost military weaponry-type noise going on?”
Cllr Colin Evans said he knew of a £3,000 gun dog which was “totally traumatised” in its outdoor kennel by a firework barrage.
He said the dog managed to escape, leaving blood on the kennel floor, and was found several miles away three days later.
“This is a dog which had been trained to retrieve pheasants and stuff like that,” he said.
Cllr Evans said dog owners were asking a vet he knew for sedatives in the run-up to Bonfire Night.
He added: “These celebrations are indiscriminate. You could be walking your dog up the road and all of a sudden, this explosion occurs and you’re wondering, what on earth is going on here?”
Cllr Suzy Curry said there had been some terrible problems in her ward in Llanelli with “thoughtless and selfish people” letting off fireworks into the night and early hours.
“Some of these fireworks are more like bombs,” she said. “They’re not like the sparklers we had as children. Something definitely needs to be done.”
The motion calls on the council to write to the UK and Welsh Governments asking them to review existing legislation.
Carmarthenshire is the tenth local authority in Wales to pass the RSPCA motion, which was proposed by Cllr Louvain Roberts.
It’s against the law in the UK to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am except on certain occasions. Councils can take action if firework noise is deemed a statutory noise nuisance, or if fireworks are being used in an anti-social manner.
A Welsh Government spokesman said fireworks and bonfires were enjoyed by many people but could also cause distress to certain people and animals.
“We do not have any specific powers to control the sale and/or use of fireworks in Wales, and have asked the UK Government to tighten existing legislation – as well as promoting wider awareness of the distress that might be caused by irresponsible use of fireworks,” he said.
“We also note that at this time, people may not meet up for events such as firework displays due to the current restrictions in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.”
Lewis Clark, RSPCA public affairs adviser, said the charity was delighted that Carmarthenshire Council approved the motion.
“Almost half of Councils in Wales have now made this step and we’re already hearing of some hugely important work at a local Government level to implement some of these new measures,” he said.
“Many people love fireworks – but we need to encourage responsible use, as they can be very frightening and dangerous for animals and vulnerable people too.”