National Campaign for Firework Safety
Our aim is to promote the safe use of fireworks
Read All About It - What's been said in the news in 2002
Part 5 September
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Evening Mail, 30 September 2002, Fireworks bid to prevent tragedy By Tony Deeley,
Families will be treated to a Bonfire Night spectacular as a council tries to woo thousands of revellers away from the perils of staging home firework displays. A massive half-hour display, choreographed to the sounds of Elvis, Kylie and classical items such as the Hall of the Mountain King, will be the main feature of the big Guy Fawkes event planned by Sandwell Council at Dartmouth Park, West Bromwich. There will also be a traditional bonfire and a 15-minute firework display for children. Other crowd-pullers include the Pat Collins Fun Fair and a stage featuring Sandwell's popular local band, Fade.
Organisers expect a 14,000 crowd and hope the "big value" event would help dissuade people from staging back garden and similar displays, with risks of injury.
On November 5,1994, five-year-old Sam Duggan, of Crome Road, Great Barr, died from head injuries and several other people were hurt after being showered by debris from an exploding bonfire lit with petrol at the Red Lion pub in All Saints Way, West Bromwich. The publican, former Albion and Birmingham City star Steve Lynex, was fined £3,000 by magistrates at West Bromwich after admitting failing to ensure public safety.
Jane Johnson, main organiser for the Dartmouth Park event on November 2, said today: "It will be a good night out for the family. "We always advise people not to have their own back garden displays. Our sort of event, with an expert company letting off the fireworks is much safer." The gates will open at 6pm and the Mayor will light the bonfire at 6.30pm.
September 30 2002, Leeds Today, Blunkett fireworks challenge
Campaigners calling for new legislation to combat the problems of fireworks set off all year round have written to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett. The move comes after the Yorkshire Evening Post launched a campaign for tougher controls on fireworks. Every year scores of letters flood into the YEP concerning the misuse of fireworks for months ahead of Guy Fawkes Night. Backed by MPs and firefighters, we are calling for a change in the law.
One suggestion is that sales of fireworks are limited to 10 days before November 5. Another is to introduce a system whereby anyone wishing to stage a firework display at any other time of the year must apply for a licence.
Duncan Evans, 74, a retired transport manager, of Farsley, Leeds, has written to Mr Blunkett.
He said: "I would definitely support the campaign. "I have a dog who is terrified of them and every time they go off I end up staying up half the night with it. "A couple of weeks ago there were fireworks going off until 1am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's a year-round problem where we live and something needs to be done."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the animal charity supported the YEP's fireworks campaign.
She said: "Every year the RSPCA deals with hundreds of firework-related emergency calls involving acts of blatant cruelty, terrified pets that have bolted, or accidents that could easily have been avoided.
"For example, between the end of October and mid November last year, the society received 776 reports of firework related incidents. "Direct firework injuries are only the tip of the iceberg. "We are horrified by the number of animals brought to us for emergency care because they have been injured by fireworks. "The vast majority of these injuries could be avoided if more care was taken while planning celebrations. Fireworks can easily distress pets, so animals should be kept indoors and measures should also be taken to ensure that wildlife is not threatened. "Unfortunately, some of the injuries that we treat are a result of deliberate cruelty. Any such incidents should be reported to the RSPCA on 08705 555 999.
She added: "We advise pet owners to keep their animals indoors on and around bonfire night, but as fireworks are now used all year round to celebrate all kinds of occasions this is more and more difficult to do."
September 30 2002, Leeds Today, Fireworks misery - end it NOW!
THE Yorkshire Evening Post today calls on the Government to end the misery of thousands of people across the county. We are backing demands from members of the public for tougher controls on fireworks in the run-up to Bonfire Night. Every year, scores of letters flood into the YEP concerning the misuse of fireworks for weeks - and even months - ahead of November 5.
With leading MPs, firefighters, trading standards officers, animal charities and ordinary residents, we are now calling for a change in the law. One suggestion is to restrict their sale to the public to 10 days before Guy Fawkes' Night. Such a move has already been launched on an informal basis, between police and shopkeepers in Harrogate. Another is to introduce a system under which anyone wishing to stage a fireworks display at any other time of the year must apply for a special licence.
Marjorie Johnson, 62, from Harrogate, has battled for years for a change in the law. She said: "I'm no killjoy. There is nothing more beautiful than a good fireworks display. "But it's a nuisance, even traumatic for some people, when they are being set off months before Bonfire Night. "When fireworks are sold all-year-round it also increases the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. Fireworks can be dangerous weapons, but at the moment youngsters seem to be able to get them quite easily."
Pensioner Iris Schofield is also firmly behind our campaign. The 81-year-old from Harrogate was left heartbroken when her dog Tamsey died after suffering a heart attack because of loud displays near her home. "I was delighted when I heard the Yorkshire Evening Post was launching this campaign," she said. "Tamsey was only eight and a quiet little Jack Russell. Because I live alone, she was my closest companion. "She was so terrified by the fireworks and even though it was five years ago now, her death still upsets me. People seem to need no excuse these days to set fireworks off at any time. I lived through the war and some of the rockets I hear these days frighten me because they sound just like bombs."
High-profile support has come from David Monks, West Yorkshire's assistant chief fire officer. He said: "I have been a fire officer for 29 years and have seen lots of serious injuries and problems caused by fireworks. "They have been thrown at firefighters, pushed through letterboxes, that sort of thing. "I would personally support a ban on sales until 10 days before Bonfire Night as it would reduce the period over which we have those problems."
Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, put forward a Commons motion last year calling for restrictions on fireworks.
Bans on fireworks except at agreed times of the year;
New powers for councils to restrict fireworks to those periods;
Licences for shops and wholesalers selling fireworks.
He said: "There was a lot of support for my proposals but ministers felt there was sufficient legislation in place, but it is incredibly out-of-date. "I really do applaud the YEP for mounting this campaign. We need to get a balance to ensure people avoid the endless all-year-round indiscriminate use of fireworks. "It terrorises the elderly, the infirm and animals - not to mention the huge nuisance it causes within neighbourhoods." "It is only through public pressure and campaigns such as this that we will get the Government to act and end people's firework misery."
Telegraph 29 September 2002 Soaring insurance costs mean ban on village green fireworks
Hundreds of Guy Fawkes Night firework displays have been cancelled this year because insurers will not provide cover, citing the burgeoning "compensation culture". Worried by excessive claims from litigious spectators, insurance underwriters have stopped providing cover for unofficial firework shows, most commonly held on village greens or in small towns.
The development will have a dramatic effect on rural communities where Bonfire Night is a tradition.
The largest insurer for these types of display, Torribles Insurance Brokers of London, provided cover for more than 5,000 last year. The company sold its £25 policy until this July when the Lloyd's underwriter with whom it dealt stopped accepting such contracts.
Matthew Torrible, the managing director, said: "It is a huge shame. There is not an underwriter we know who will insure for this. They think it is a small premium to pay for a very high hazard. They are under pressure to make more money and not to do anything reckless. Insurance companies are withdrawing into areas of safety because people are becoming incredibly litigious."
Compensation payouts for personal injury claims are now running at about £14.3 billion a year, having risen by almost £2.5 billion in two years. Ranging from the trivial to the serious, they include negligence claims against the National Health Service, unfair dismissal cases and complaints against local authorities for accidents in school playgrounds, parks or on pavements.
Last week The Telegraph could find only one underwriter willing to insure unofficial firework displays. But the premiums had been increased from between £25 and £50 last year to between £400 and £500 this year, making it too expensive for most small displays.
The problem is a symptom of a growing crisis in the insurance industry. According to the British Insurance Brokers' Association, premiums increased by an average of 400 per cent last year, a rise blamed on pensions misselling, the September 11 terrorist attacks and flood damage to property.
Up to 200,000 homeowners in flood-prone areas may have their cover withdrawn in January when a government deal that guaranteed insurance runs out.
Peter Staddon, the association's technical manager, said: "It is a shame if these displays are cancelled, but you have to see both sides of the story. The culture has changed. There are people on high streets handing out leaflets asking if you have been injured in the past three years. If somebody gets injured now, they say, 'Let's sue someone, let's make a claim'. So if you have a group of people just getting together to have a display then that creates a problem."
Last year 1,362 people were injured by fireworks in the four weeks leading up to November 5, according to government figures. Of these, 73 injuries occurred at unofficial displays, 598 at private displays and 158 at large public displays.
Large displays organised by local councils will continue this year because they have public liability insurance, and displays in private gardens are normally covered by home contents insurance. But organisers of unofficial displays have been cancelling them, much to the disappointment of local people.
The Bonfire Night party in the village of Westfield in Suffolk has just been called off. Last year insurance cost £93 and was paid for by money raised by coffee mornings. Leslie Scott, one of the organisers, said: "What am I going to say to the children? I have been going through the phone book contacting insurance companies without luck. We have always had firework displays here but now I can only get insurance for bonfires. What is the point in having a bonfire without fireworks?"
Nottingham Evening Post 28 September 2002, Change Firework Rules
I think fireworks should be banned apart from the weekend of Guy Fawkes, because my animals spend the weeks leading up to it frightened and nervous. They have to be kept in earlier for their own safety. There is also the concern for my children's safety as well as my own.
Fireworks are getting louder every year so it has annoyed me to spot a sign in the local newsagent at Keyworth in the Square for half-price fireworks. What do they think they are doing or achieving by this? This has got to be stopped.
I am not against fireworks if they are used correctly and if it was made law for their use on two days only we would know when to keep our pets and children in, with people letting them off after the two-day period being fined heavily.
M. W. Address supplied
Evening Chronicle, 27 September 2002, Vent Your Spleen
I'd like to complain about the yobs who set off fireworks and all sorts. They fly up and down on their motorbikes and have nearly sent me flying. I am scared to go out on a night time now with the fireworks going off outside my house. So I just wish the police would come around and try and catch them on their beat but there's never anyone there when you want them.
Leicester Mercury, 25 September 2002, A STINGING WAY TO HALT ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SELLING
Sting operations are being set up around the city to stop traders selling fireworks to children. Leicester City Council is also asking people to call a tip-off line if they see anyone selling fireworks illegally. The hard-line-approach has come on the back of Leicester City Council's Bang campaign, which is supported by the Leicester Mercury. A series of four hard-hitting campaign posters were launched today, to bring home the Bang campaign message that the misuse of fireworks brings misery to hundreds of people in the city. Each poster illustrates a different aspect of the campaign.
One poster shows a shopkeeper with the slogan "Bang goes my livelihood" and warns shopkeepers they face a £5,000 fine if they sell fireworks to anyone under 18. Principal trading standards officer John Fox, warned his enforcement team would be using a 14-year-old to try to buy fireworks during the sting operations. He said two city shopkeepers were convicted last year in similar operations and handed fines and court costs by magistrates totalling hundreds of pounds. Mr Fox said: "Anyone caught breaking the law and selling fireworks to under-18s faces a maximum fine of £5,000. We take it very seriously. We investigate every report and will prosecute in every case where there is a breach of the law." During 2000, more than half of Britain's 1,000 reported firework-related injuries were to under-16s. Nearly one third of the total took place in the street.
Mr Fox urged parents and shoppers to remain vigilant and report incidents of illegal firework sales on the trading standards advice line. The Mercury-backed campaign aims to stop the distress caused to hundreds of people by the needless use of fireworks. The four posters highlight how residents, traders and pets are affected by fireworks.
Leicester city councillor Nigel Holden, cabinet member responsible for the environment, was due to launch the campaign when he unfurled a 60 sq. ft poster at Granby Halls car park in Welford Road. He said: "We hope the posters will highlight the distress fireworks can cause, and might make people stop and think before setting off fireworks late at night, for days on end."
Among those backing the new campaign are the staff of the Halford Street Mercury News Shop. Deputy manager Sheila Wells said: "We are happy to support the campaign. Anything that helps people's safety has to be welcomed."
Leicester City Council's trading standards advice line is 0116 299 5600.
Teletext North East, 27 September 2002, Traders back fireworks embargo.
Traders across Redcar and Cleveland are backing a code of conduct aimed at combatting the illegal sale of fireworks in the run up to Bonfire Night.
Under the deal, traders are agreeing to an embargo on the sale of fireworks during a three week period in November.
A Council spokesman said" The sale of fireworks to under eighteen contributes to the problems of anti-social behaviour.
This is Leicestershire 27 September 2002, SNUFF OUT FIREWORKS MISERY FOR ANIMALS
Every year, Leicester's RSPCA staff have to deal with calls about pets hurt or terrified by fireworks.
Today, the charity gave its backing to a campaign aimed at stamping out the misery fireworks can cause.
Leicester City Council's Bang campaign, backed by the Leicester Mercury, aims to make the run up to bonfire night and Diwali a fun and safe time for everyone.
Martyn Hubbard, RSPCA regional superintendent for Leicestershire, said every year they had hundreds of fireworks-related calls involving acts of cruelty or terrified pets which have bolted after being scared by the bangs of fireworks.
He said: "Each year, we are horrified at the number of animals brought to us for emergency care as a result of firework injuries.
"The vast majority of these injuries could be avoided if more care was taken while planning celebrations."
The RSPCA warns that fireworks can easily distress pets and says measures should also be taken to ensure that wildlife is not threatened.
People are urged never to let off fireworks near any animals and to ensure all pets are kept indoors after dark.
If a pet dog is particularly sensitive to loud noises, you should ask a vet to prescribe a sedative. Rabbits and other outdoor pets should be taken into a garage or outbuilding.
Mr Hubbard said: "People should close curtains and leave a TV or radio on to camouflage the noise of fireworks.
"Make sure that pets are properly identified by means of a collar and tag or preferably a microchip in case they get frightened and run off."
As part of the Bang campaign, posters are being displayed throughout the city showing how different people, and animals, are affected by fireworks.
The posters highlight how fireworks can ruin people's peace and quiet, frighten young children and scare pets.
They also warn shopkeepers of the penalties they face if caught selling fireworks to anyone underage.
A billboard has been put up in Welford Road and more than 500 posters distributed asking revellers to be considerate.
The campaign was prompted by dozens of complaints about people being disturbed by fireworks noise last year.
Coun Nigel Holden said: "We don't want to stop people having fireworks displays, just have them before 11pm."
This is The North East, 27 September 2002, Free hotline opens in bid to beat firework yobs
A CONFIDENTIAL free telephone hotline is being opened in a bid to combat firework misuse.
People will be able to use the 24-hour service to report illegal sales of fireworks, firework nuisance - and even illegal bonfires.
The hotline number 0800 389 7223 will be open from October 14 to January 14. It is being set up by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and will cover east Cleveland.
Councillor Dave McLuckie, the council's lead member for community safety said: "There is no doubt at all that the sale of fireworks to under 18s is a contributory factor to the problems of anti-social behaviour associated with the lead up to bonfire night.
"That may be several weeks away but no-one will need telling that the problems are already starting.''
So far, there has been support from more than 50 retailers who have signed up to a partnership initiative between Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's trading standards unit and the Redcar and Cleveland Community Safety Partnership.
The code includes a ban on the sale of fireworks until three weeks before November 5, and explains the legislation covering their sale.
Shop staff are urged as part of the code to refuse to sell to anyone if they have doubts that the fireworks will not be used responsibly.
Police spot checks and fire brigade inspections of premises are also being stepped up. As already reported, neighbouring Middlesbrough Council is calling on retailers to agree not to sell fireworks until three weeks before November 5 and to only start sales for New Year celebrations on December 27.
The scheme is a bid to limit noise nuisance as well as accidents with fireworks.
This is North Scotland, 27 September 2002, Fireworks scared pet dog to death
An ABERDEEN mum is calling for tighter controls on the sale of fireworks after a pet dog was scared to death.
Cove mum Carol Mitchell, 47, has called for shops to be restricted to selling fireworks until much closer to bonfire night.
She made the call after discovering a local newsagent in Altens was selling fireworks almost two months before November 5.
Mrs Mitchell said this encouraged youngsters to set them off for weeks in advance. She also wants to see the age limit for firework sales increased from 18 to 21.
The mother-of-two spoke out after her friend's dog was killed last year when the petrified animal was fleeing from fireworks being set off in the street. Her daughter Jo-Anne, 17, was walking the border collie, Holly, at the time. But the four-year-old pet was so startled by the fireworks she broke free from the teenager. The terrified animal ran into a road and was killed by a car.
The Dunlin Road resident said: "We were all devastated. "The dog just got such a fright from the noise and ran. "Pet owners shouldn't be expected to keep their animals indoors six weeks before bonfire night. "I am frightened for my own dog Harvey as the night approaches.
"I wouldn't want to stop anyone's fun, but when it is at the expense of innocent animals it is wrong."
The Makro cashier, who also has a son Josh, 14, said: "I really don't think newsagents should be allowed to sell fireworks.
"But if they have to it should be just a couple of weeks before. No-one under the age of 21 should be allowed to buy them. They are not responsible enough." The council's principal officer of trading standards, Bill Fraser, said no law was being broken.
But retailers are encouraged to restrict sales to three weeks before bonfire night. He said: "The council is concerned about the misuse of fireworks. "It is not the fireworks that cause the problem, but some of the people who use them. "They can cause stress to humans as well as animals."
Last year, 8,000 animals in Scotland were treated for injuries and stress, related to the use of fireworks.
A spokeswoman for the SSPCA said: "This is an issue that we feel very strongly about.
"We carried out a survey at the beginning of the year and 98% of people asked said they would like to see tighter control on the sale of fireworks."
This is North Scotland -27 September 2002, CONTROL FIREWORKS SALES AND STOP MISERY THEY CAUSE
It is only September and already fireworks are on sale with all the problems that brings us.
On September 15 I had to coax an eye-rolling, trembling dog from under my bed because loud fireworks were being set off around this estate.
The nightly episodes since then are too many to list.
My local shop at Byron Square is selling fireworks and other shops in the immediate vicinity have been selling them for some time.
I have no objection to November 5 and its festivities, but I cannot prepare my dog for three months of exploding fireworks.
Every year people, mostly children, are maimed because of this "celebration". So why, oh why, expand the time of risk?
I believe there are safer alternatives.
Perhaps our City Council can place some form of restriction on the shops and lessen the risk to our kids, the pensioners and our four-legged friends.
Perhaps the council could insist upon only official organised venues for firework displays to ensure that they can be enjoyed by all - but in a safe and controlled manner.
I know I would attend.
Anything less from the council would be condoning the nights of discomfort for the many, for the pleasure of the few. G. R. Northfield
Evening Gazette, 26 September 2002, Action to extinguish firework trouble
Silent nights in the run-up to Bonfire Night and New Year is the aim of a scheme being launched by Middlesbrough Council.
The authority's trading standards unit is promoting a Responsible Fireworks Retailer Scheme.
Shopkeepers signing up to it agree not to sell fireworks until three weeks before November 5, and to start sales for the New Year only on December 27.
The scheme aims to cut noise nuisance and potential danger from fireworks.
Barry Coppinger, the council's executive councillor for law and order, visited Martin Newsagents in Trimdon Avenue, to visit one of the first retailers who signed up to the scheme.
Cllr Coppinger said: "I applaud all the retailers who are willing to join this scheme, as they are making a genuine contribution to the well-being of the community."
Trading standards officers will also ensure fireworks are not sold to under-18s, check that fireworks are safe and bear the correct warnings, and license premises where fireworks are stocked.
Traders applying for an explosives licence will be asked to sign up to the scheme and in return they will receive a certificate acknowledging their commitment to the scheme.
Meanwhile traders across Redcar and Cleveland are to restrict when fireworks are sold. More than 50 traders across the borough have already signed up to a code of practice.
Redcar and Cleveland Community Partnership and the council's trading standards unit are behind the code. The community safety partnership, which links the council, police and fire brigade, will heighten police patrols, along with fire brigade inspections.
This is Local London, 26 September 2002, Fireworks campaigners say - Get wise or get hurt
ENFIELD'S firework safety crusade received a boost on Monday when leading members of the community met to launch a new campaign.
Trading Standards, councillors, police, retailers, firefighters and Enfield North MP Joan Ryan met at the Civic Centre to highlight the dangers of fireworks as part of the Get Wise Or Get Hurt Campaign.
Also attending were the parents of 13-year-old Martin Lamparter, who died tragically on December 12 last year when a firework flew into his neck as he played on Elsinge common, Enfield.
The aim of the meeting was to send out a clear warning to retailers and parents that it is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18.
Speaking at the meeting Ms Ryan, who is campaigning for a complete ban on the sale of fireworks, stressed the importance of taking a proactive line to prevent what she branded as "wrapped explosives" falling into children's hands.
The MP, who asked Tony Blair to look again at firework legislation when she addressed the House of Commons in February, said: "I am delighted that Enfield Council and Trading Standards are pursuing a course to deal with the very serious issue about young children purchasing fireworks."
The MP also paid tribute to Brian and Maggie Lamparter who have supported her campaign.
She added: "Mr and Mrs Lamparter suffered a very tragic loss because of fireworks. I pay tribute to the courage they are showing to move on from that tragedy and use it to protect others."
Posters promoting firework safety will go up around the borough from next week. Meanwhile Enfield's Responsible Retailers Scheme, a code of practice relating to sales to the under-aged, has been in force since last year.
Commenting on the meeting Brian Lamparter, 39, said: "It is important to have strict guidelines about the sale and use of fireworks. It is a help to know that something good will come out of Martin's death.
"I just want positive action so this doesn't happen to any other family. I don't want to see another child injured. We would hate another family to live the way we are existing.
"This campaign has got to be good for everybody."
Evening Chronicle 25 September 2002, Rocket blasted through Evelyn's window
Frail Evelyn McDade shook today as she told how a powerful firework rocket was blasted through her bedroom window. Yobs deliberately aimed the missile at her tower block home which houses scores of old folk. The rocket smashed through the 10th floor window and set the 72-year-old's bedroom alight, destroying it, as she was preparing to turn in for the night. Det Con David Garrick of Newcastle East CID said today: "She could have been killed. The fire gutted the bedroom and caused extensive damage to the flat. "Mrs McDade is elderly and wouldn't have stood a chance if she had been in bed at the time. "We believe a number of men were involved in firing off industrial-strength fireworks on Sunday night and we need to hear from anyone who can identify the suspects." Dazed Mrs McDade managed to escape the blaze by shutting the bedroom door and staggering into the tower block's corridor in The Spinney, Newton Place, High Heaton, Newcastle. Recovering at her daughter-in-law's home in Forest Hall, North Tyneside, Mrs McDade told the Chronicle: "I don't want to go back to the flat, this has really shocked me. "Every time I think about it I get weepy and distressed. I don't know how I managed to get out. It was so frightening." Mrs McDade escaped wearing just her night-dress, dressing gown and slippers. She lost all her clothes, personal papers and photographs as her bed, wardrobe and other furniture was destroyed in the blaze. None of the pensioner's house contents were insured and she can't afford to get new furniture. "I'm just glad to get out alive," added Mrs McDade. "I didn't have time to take anything out with me, I knew I just had to leave as quickly as I could." Mrs McDade had gone into another room to get some tissues when the missile smashed in. "I heard a loud bang. It was like gunfire. Then saw a spark on my hall carpet," she said. "I stamped the smoke and flame out with my foot and then I looked up and my bedroom was blazing. "The kitchen door was shut and I somehow managed to shut the bedroom door. "My neighbours helped when I got out of the flat and I was taken to another flat while they contacted my son. The firemen went in to put out the flames and they brought out a few things for me, including my jewellery box and a purse. "I don't have any of my clothes left. I had to get some from the charity shop to go on with. "I'm too scared and too distressed to go back to that flat, even when they have sorted it out. "The police sealed it off and no-one can go back in." Mrs McDade's husband, Vincent, had lived with her but died shortly after they had moved in. She is still grieving from the loss of her husband and thought she was safe in sheltered accommodation. Mrs McDade has been offered another flat in the block and she is taking time to recuperate before she makes a decision. Police had been called to the scene when residents reported what they thought was gunfire between 9pm and 10pm on Sunday. It was established the racket was from powerful fireworks which were being set off from the garden area outside the High Heaton tenants club. Up to half a dozen men, aged around 18, were seen to fire the rockets around the estate and then aim at the flats. Mrs McDade's daughter-in-law, Sylvia, said: "These people should be caught and punished for what they have done. "The police are looking for them for arson, but it could have been much more serious, it could have been a murder inquiry. "They showed no consideration for the elderly residents. "They thought they would be safe from this sort of behaviour in sheltered accommodation." One resident, in his 60s, who doesn't want to be identified, said: "It had been going on for about 45 minutes. "The police went to the club where the men had been drinking to warn them about the disturbance. "But they scattered and ten minutes after two officers left, they started up again and aimed at the flats. "It's terrible what they have done. That poor woman could have died. They are just yobs who have been causing trouble around here. "They weren't young kids they must have been in their late teens and 20s." Anyone who knows the identity of the arsonists or who witnessed the attack is urged to contact Newcastle East CID on (0191) 214 6555.
The Journal, 25 September 2002, Firework blasts 10th floor flat of widow, 72 by Helen Charlton
An elderly woman was rescued from her blazing 10th floor flat when a firework crashed through her bedroom window and shook the tower block with an explosion. Evelyn McDade, 72, was in shock after the firework smashed into her home, exploded and set the carpet on fire as she was about to climb into bed. Neighbours who ran to the rescue say The Spinney sheltered accommodation block in High Heaton, Newcastle, shook as the firework exploded. Ron Reay, 73, and another neighbour dashed into Mrs McDade's living room and pulled her to safety as flames spread. Mrs McDade, who has already suffered a stroke, was recovering at her son's home last night while she decides whether to return to a home badly damaged by fire and smoke. She said: "I am just so angry and upset by what's happened. I had to watch my clothes and personal belongings being destroyed by the fire. "This has probably caused me the most pain." Mr Reay, a widower who had suffered from cancer, said: "I was about to get into bed when there was an almighty explosion. It rattled the flats. "The smell of smoke was terrible. I went towards Evelyn's and we managed to get her out. The heat was so intense in there I couldn't believe how quickly the fire had caught hold. "I pulled Evelyn's front door shut to stop the fire spreading. She was clearly shocked and very, very upset, she's a lovely quiet woman and we never expected anything like this to happen, especially on the 10th floor. "But fireworks had been going off in the area for about an hour. "We should feel safe in our homes. Sometimes golf balls have been thrown at windows, but not a firework. It was like a huge rocket. "We will support Evelyn if she returns to her flat. We're all good friends." Northumbria Police are now investigating the incident which happened on Sunday night and they have arrested a youth, who has been bailed pending further inquiries. Firefighters from both Newcastle City Centre and Walker brought the blaze under control. Anyone with information is asked to call police on (0191) 214-7555.
This is Leicestershire, 25 September 2002, A STINGING WAY TO HALT ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SELLING
Sting operations are being set up around the city to stop traders selling fireworks to children.
Leicester City Council is also asking people to call a tip-off line if they see anyone selling fireworks illegally.
The hard-line-approach has come on the back of Leicester City Council's Bang campaign, which is supported by the Leicester Mercury.
A series of four hard-hitting campaign posters were launched today, to bring home the Bang campaign message that the misuse of fireworks brings misery to hundreds of people in the city.
Each poster illustrates a different aspect of the campaign.
One poster shows a shopkeeper with the slogan "Bang goes my livelihood" and warns shopkeepers they face a £5,000 fine if they sell fireworks to anyone under 18.
Principal trading standards officer John Fox, warned his enforcement team would be using a 14-year-old to try to buy fireworks during the sting operations.
He said two city shopkeepers were convicted last year in similar operations and handed fines and court costs by magistrates totalling hundreds of pounds.
Mr Fox said: "Anyone caught breaking the law and selling fireworks to under-18s faces a maximum fine of £5,000. We take it very seriously. We investigate every report and will prosecute in every case where there is a breach of the law."
During 2000, more than half of Britain's 1,000 reported firework-related injuries were to under-16s.
Nearly one third of the total took place in the street.
Mr Fox urged parents and shoppers to remain vigilant and report incidents of illegal firework sales on the trading standards advice line.
The Mercury-backed campaign aims to stop the distress caused to hundreds of people by the needless use of fireworks. The four posters highlight how residents, traders and pets are affected by fireworks.
Leicester city councillor Nigel Holden, cabinet member responsible for the environment, was due to launch the campaign when he unfurled a 60 sq. ft poster at Granby Halls car park in Welford Road.
He said: "We hope the posters will highlight the distress fireworks can cause, and might make people stop and think before setting off fireworks late at night, for days on end."
Among those backing the new campaign are the staff of the Halford Street Mercury News Shop.
Deputy manager Sheila Wells said: "We are happy to support the campaign. Anything that helps people's safety has to be welcomed."
Leicester City Council's trading standards advice line is 0116 299 5600.
This is Local London, 25 September 2002, Fireworks a real scourge
I am delighted to read that someone other than myself, namely Mr Bill Laing, finds these innumerable firework parties very annoying.
At any odd time in the evening, even as late as 11pm, we are disturbed by the banging noise coming from somewhere to the west of us.
Who holds these parties and can anybody throw them regardless?
Where actually is the site of this nuisance and can it be stopped officially?
Is someone making money out of it?
MRS A. L. Sutton
icLiverpool 24 September 2002, Echo Letters
ALAS, soon we shall have the annual bleatings of "penny for the guy" with all the associated evils surrounding it, especially in the present climate of child abuse etc. But of paramount concern is the early sale of fireworks. The current yobbo gangs are already looking forward to it. So even before November 5, let's see a real endeavour to curtail the sale of fireworks to just two weeks prior and only sold to adults. We all know the scene - a bag of rags bundled together and the whining of "penny for the guy", even outside superstores, betting shops etc. The much-vaunted Cracking Crime on TV must be bold enough to outlaw such scenes of begging on the streets and certainly the early sale of fireworks. You've been warned.
T. R. Bebington
icScotland - 24 September 2002, VOICE OF SCOTLAND No bright sparks
I RECENTLY found fireworks being sold in a newsagents for half price, something I find completely irresponsible. This only encourages youngsters to run amok with them.
I wish the Government would get a grip and ban these screaming horrors. - Mrs N. A. Glasgow.
Shops should wake up to the fact that Bonfire Night is in November - NOT September.
Nottingham Evening Post, 24 September 2002, Fireworks Misery, Yet Again BY KEVIN PEACHEY
There are still six weeks until Bonfire Night but the sound of exploding fireworks is already common in some parts of Notts.
The noise has prompted renewed support for the Post's "Be Safe Not Sorry" campaign.
The campaign calls for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, so they are only available to those organising a licensed event.
Inspector Jeff Whitmore, of Notts Police, believes there should be more controls on fireworks.
Backing the Post's campaign, he wants them to only be available for organised displays. Fireworks are already being let off on the Bulwell estates with worse scenarios to come.
"I heard one this week and it sounded like a firearm being discharged ten times," he said. "Very soon they will start appearing on the shelves in supermarkets and corner shops and more youngsters will get hold of them. "They throw them at each other and fire them through letter boxes. There needs to be a very severe restriction on them being sold." He said he received scores of letters on the subject from residents.
Another of those to speak out is blind education student Jenny Hollingworth, of Bulwell. The 23-year-old fears that she might have to retire her guide dog Neisha which is terrified of fireworks. She said: "I do not know how badly she is going to react this year but the worst case scenario is that she will have to be retired. "I spend three months on edge with a guide dog who will be unable to work in the evenings." Neisha was taken from Jenny for eight weeks last year and had to be retrained after being sedated. "It is worrying that she is going to be scared, collapse and shake." Jenny added that she dreaded the prospect of letting her go every year around Bonfire Night. She said: "I just can't say goodbye to her every year."
Jenny, who is training to become a classroom assistant, has to use her white cane when Neisha is unable to work. She has called for fireworks to be banned on all but the weekend of Guy Fawkes' night when Neisha could be sedated and sleep for two days. Her neighbours were also angry about being disturbed by fireworks night after night, she added.
Burton Mail, 23 September 2002, Firework Fears by ANDY MANN
PEOPLE living in parts of Burton are already in fear of fireworks - eight weeks ahead of Bonfire Night.
Some residents of Uxbridge fear a repeat of last year's scenes in which explosives were pushed through letter boxes and thrown at people. Burton police have moved to reassure Uxbridge residents that officers will be looking for yobs letting off the explosives
People attending a neighbourhood forum in Queen's Street Community Centre this week were told police and trading standards would be cracking down on shops selling fireworks illegally.
Last year more than 100 householders attended a public meeting called by resident Nick Curtis-Botting (pictured) at the centre on October 17, to discuss ways of combating thugs who were making their lives a misery.
Explosives were being thrown at cars, at people and through letter boxes, weeks before Bonfire Night.
Police mounted plain clothes mounted patrols and made a number of arrests.
East Staffordshire Borough Council member for Uxbridge and Liberal Democrat group leader Sue Marbrow called for changes in the law, including banning the sale of fireworks to under 21s and licensing shops to sell explosives.
She was backed by the ward's Labour member, Ali Chaudhry.
Councillor Marbrow told the Mail today: "Two weeks ago there were fireworks going off.
"There is a lot of noise with these fireworks. There are big bangs and the elderly are afraid to go out at night."
Councillor Chaudhry said: "We are working with the police and other agencies and we are monitoring the situation.
"The problem is not just confined to Uxbridge - it's a problem across the country.
"I would urge shopkeepers to refrain from selling fireworks early, before November 5.
"I would also urge them to refrain from selling to children. That is a plea to all shops including the big supermarkets."
BBC News 23 September 2002, Police register fireworks concern
Scotland's police chiefs are calling for legislation governing the sale of fireworks to be tightened.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said that the current laws and voluntary codes of practice are outdated.
It wants to see tighter vetting procedures of retailers and an increase in the price of the sellers' certificate from the current level of £13.
Acpos also wants training certificates to be introduced for those selling fireworks and a more "positive" policy of prosecuting offenders
The legislative framework is currently controlled by the Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 and the Explosives Acts of 1875 and 1923.
David Mellor, Fife's Deputy Chief Constable and spokesperson for Acpos, said these laws were "certainly past their sell-by date".
"We firmly believe that the regulations governing the manufacture, storage and retail sale of fireworks are in desperate need of review.
"In meeting modern needs they simply do not go nearly far enough.
"Anyone can apply for registration to allow them to sell fireworks, for instance.
"This costs just £13, there is no provision for refusal or revocation of an application and it remains valid for 12 months. Why all year when there is only one 5 November?"
Mr Mellor said that the current laws make conditions difficult for police forces around the country.
He said that in many cases fireworks were being set off indiscriminately or thrown at people.
In Fife last year police dealt with 745 calls from the public relating to the abuse of fireworks - 18 in September, 502 in October and 225 in November.
Mr Mellor said the case for tightening the laws was now overwhelming.
"There needs to be stringent vetting of sellers to ensure that those applying for a certificate are of good character," he said.
"Applicants for a certificate to sell fireworks should be required to show need before being granted a certificate.
"A positive prosecution policy for offenders needs to be adopted and there is a specific need for approved certified training for those involved in the handling and safety of fireworks."
Mr Mellor said police forces believed that only people with training certificates should be allowed to buy and sell fireworks.
He also called for more stringent security requirements for the storage of fireworks and legislation covering the periods during which they can be supplied or sold.
Mr Mellor added: "There is, of course, some support for a complete ban on the sale of domestic fireworks but it is recognised that this would be extremely difficult to enforce.
"Alternative sources of fireworks would remain available - the internet, Europe and self-manufacture being just some - so there is a real danger that a black market in illegal fireworks could spring up."
The Herald, 23 September 2002, Police chiefs call for tougher regulations on sale of fireworks
SCOTLAND'S police chiefs have launched a strong attack on fireworks legislation, claiming the regulations are "a recipe for widescale abuse".
Urging legislators to "sit up and take notice", they said that last year abuse of fireworks had "literally rocketed".
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said the rules governing the manufacture, storage, and retail sale of fireworks were "in desperate need of review". However, it accepted that a complete ban on their sale would be very difficult to enforce.
David Mellor, a spokesman for Acpos, said: "Various alternative sources of fireworks would remain available - the internet, Europe and self-manufacture being just some - so there is a real danger that a black market in illegal fireworks could spring up."
Mr Mellor, deputy chief constable of Fife Constabulary, said there had been "an explosion" of problems that were now indelibly linked to the November 5 tradition, both before and beyond the fireworks and bonfire season.
He said this had encouraged the country's police forces to call for a tightening of legislation and the voluntary codes of practice relating to "these potentially lethal events".
He said the current regulations simply did not go nearly far enough in meeting modern needs.
"Anyone can apply for registration to allow them to sell fireworks, for instance. This costs just £13, there is no provision for refusal or revocation of an application, and it remains valid for 12 months. Why all year when there is only one November 5?"
Mr Mellor said fireworks were set off indiscriminately, thrown at people through letterboxes and into vehicles, including at least one refuelling at a petrol station, while the elderly and animals were "scared out of their wits".
"Injuries resulting from fireworks and bonfires are on the up, as are instances where the emergency services are being met with barrages of rocks and abuse when they answer calls for help."
He said a change in legislation was long overdue.
Jack Urquhart, of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said existing regulations were "simply a recipe for widescale abuse and over-provision".
Mr Urquhart said some of the controls were guidelines that could be flouted at will, and police forces regularly recorded complaints from September to December. "Last year the abuse of fireworks literally rocketed."
Acpos wants a stringent vetting of sellers, and a more "realistic" certificate cost than the present £13. It also wants more controls over the type and category of firework that can be sold for domestic use.
"There has to be a balance between the right of people to use fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes night, new year and the like with the right of communities to be free of unnecessary disruption and disorder," Mr Mello said.
Last year one sub-division in Strathclyde recorded 1340 complaints (31 a day) of fireworks incidents between October 1 and November 12.
Shona Robison, the SNP deputy shadow health minister, who is pressing for tighter controls on fireworks, welcomed the call. She urged the Scottish Executive to back her member's bill to tighten regulations.
September 23 2002, This is Nottingham, FIREWORKS RETURN
I noticed this morning a newsagent advertising half-price fireworks for sale. Later, I heard loud bangs going off in the area. In spite of the marvellous campaign by the Post and others, am I being pessimistic in thinking that this year, things will be exactly the same as last?
J. W. Mapperley
Sunday Mail, 22 September 2002 Ban the Bangers
Councils demand sales crackdown Marion Scott Exclusive
FIREWORKS could be banned from public sale in a concerted bid to stop Bonfire Night carnage.
A study of Scotland's councils has revealed seven authorities, including Glasgow, support an outright ban.
Another 15 councils want tougher controls on sales and MSPs from all parties are to lobby for an overhaul of firework laws.
Glasgow councillor Archie Graham said: "It's only mid-September and already we have reports of communities having to put up with the irresponsible use of fireworks.
"We believe organised displays in a controlled environment are the only safe way to enjoy fireworks."
Dundee City Council leader Julie Sturrock added: "Fireworks have gone from being a celebration to a dangerous public nuisance."
At least one Scot is killed in the run-up to every November 5 - with almost 100 others suffering lost limbs and facial scarring in firework accidents.
Last year's figures were the worst ever, with 89 people injured, and that has prompted calls for a crackdown.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities fireworks taskforce will meet next week to hammer out a strategy.
A special report prepared for that meeting and seen by the Sunday Mail reveals a shock increase of almost 40 per cent in injuries and deliberate violent acts involving fireworks.
And it is not just the fireworks that can maim or kill.
Four years ago, 11-year-old Allan Spiers died after a drum exploded in a bonfire in Law, Lanarkshire.
A year later, grandmother Helen Gibson, 44, from Hamilton, also died after falling into a bonfire. Her sister- in-law Eileen Gibson, 44, said: "It took one second for Helen to slip and fall. It could happen to anyone."
Gary Hughes, from Glasgow, was 15 when he lost three fingers when a firework blew up in his hand two years ago. Gary, who faces years of reconstructive surgery on his right hand, said: "I didn't listen to the warning from my parents but I wish I had now."
Last year, Scottish police forces recorded an 18 per cent increase in incidents, with 1340 in Strathclyde, 745 in Fife and 200 in Tayside.
Yesterday, Tory MSP John Young, said: "It's obvious a voluntary code isn't working. It's high time Scotland was allowed to bring in its own legislation."
Angus SNP MSP Andrew Welsh added: "We don't want to stop people from enjoying themselves, but the time has come for a complete review of fireworks legislation."
Sunday Mail, 22 September 2002, ASDA order fireworks off shelves
ASDA ordered fireworks off the shelves of all their UK stores yesterday after a Sunday Mail investigation.
The supermarket giants had signed up to a voluntary code stating they would not sell fireworks until three weeks before bonfire night.
But our reporters bought a large Black Cat rocket and Roman Candles at their giant Govan branch in Glasgow last week. A spokeswoman said: "Asda would like to apologise for this mistake, and will ensure it does not happen again.
"We've issued a directive to all stores reminding them that no fireworks should be sold until October 14."
But newsagent chain RS McColl, who were also flouting the code, remained defiant.
A spokesman said: "It is due to demand that we have launched our range of fireworks for 2002."
BBC News 21 September 2002, Indonesia factory blast kills 10
An explosion at a fireworks factory in Indonesia has killed 10 people and injured many others.
A senior police official in the central Javanese town of Slawi told Reuters news agency that nine of the dead were women.
He said that 15 other women had been injured.
Police are investigating the cause of the blast which witnesses said destroyed nearby buildings.
The explosion is said to have occurred in a room where workers were mixing raw materials for the fireworks.
The factory's workforce, estimated at 86, is mostly made up of women.
Fireworks are used across the country to celebrate weddings and festivals.
Correspondents say they are often produced in small, home-based factories that are unregulated and lack proper safety equipment
icScotland - 21 September 2002, Blast at Indonesian fireworks factory kills 10
An explosion at a fireworks factory in central Indonesia today killed 10 people, injured 19 and flattened nearby buildings, police said.
Six people died instantly in the blast at the factory based in a house in Kalibakung village, 200 miles east of the capital, Jakarta, according to Police 2nd Lt Sucipto. Four others died at the Dr Susilo Hospital in nearby Slawi, said a hospital official.
Police were investigating the cause of the blast, which levelled nearby buildings in the village. They said the explosion occurred in a room where workers were mixing raw materials for the fireworks.
September 20 2002, icCoventry - Restrict fireworks, say blind people
By Gareth Lewis
Blind people have added their support to a campaign to crack down on nuisance fireworks. Coventry City Council is to push the Government for tough new rules to stop fireworks being set off at all hours. It will ask for bylaws to restrict licensing and limit the times they can be let off. Part of the campaign is also to introduce a Good Neighbour Code calling on residents to think of others when they use fireworks. The council is hoping for support from various organisations in producing the code. One group backing the campaign is the National Federation for the Blind. Coventry member Dave Kelly said: "We are advised to keep our dogs in on Bonfire Night but there are fireworks going off every night. "Our dogs are trained to put up with noise but the constant banging and crashing does their concentration no good." Cllr John McNicholas (lab, Lower Stoke), cabinet member for environment and transport, who is leading the campaign said: "I have got to come forward with proposals that benefit all animals." The council is also calling on the government to only allow the sale of Category 3 display fireworks to licensed and approved display organisers rather than the general public. Category 3 means spectators have to stand at least 25 metres away and includes some bangers and air bombs. A draft version of the Good Neighbour Code was supported by the council's scrutiny committee yesterday. The final version will be distributed throughout the city. The campaign arose from complaints that the use of fireworks was beginning well before Bonfire Night and carrying on long after.
This is Essex, 20 September 2002, Colchester Pupils suspended over fireworks
Pupils have been suspended from a Colchester school for letting off fireworks.
The youngsters, all at Philip Morant School, off Gainsborough Road, released the explosives in the playground during a busy breaktime on Wednesday
A school spokesman confirmed the fireworks had been let off and said staff were taking the matter seriously.
In a statement, deputy headteacher John Keenan said that after investigations the firework was found to be of a type illegal in this country and bought in France.
It said: "The danger to students and staff is quite clear.
"Students who brought such items on to the site, or who attempted to set off fireworks, were excluded for ten days."
He said students who had them or lighters used in the incident were excluded for five days.
Mr Keenan said all students would be advised of the danger of such actions in assemblies held today.
This is Lancashire, 20 September 2002, Crackdown on fireworks kids
A NEW police operation has been launched to clamp down on seasonal problems caused by fireworks.
Last year police in Eastern Division, which includes Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, were called to 32 incidents involving fireworks in the weekend leading up to Bonfire Night.
And Chief Superintendent John Thompson, divisional commander for Eastern Division, called for tighter legislation on the sale of fireworks, including a complete ban on newsagents selling them, to halt the annual drain on officers' time.
A firework contingency plan called Operation Enlighten has been launched for this year's build up to Bonfire Night with aims to:
Reduce incidents involving juvenile nuisance, noise and damage from fireworks.
Target premises selling fireworks and or alcohol to under-age youngsters.
Reassure the public with high visibility activity and increase satisfaction and confidence in the police.
Educate children in relation to firework problems.
The first stage towards these targets has already begun with PC Gail Lyon, youth liaison officer, visiting primary and secondary schools to speak to children about the dangers associated with fireworks.
Sgt Claire Holbrook, co-ordinator for Accrington Police, said: "The emphasis of this will be on the distress caused to elderly people and animals, using real life examples to make the points. But parents also have a responsibility in terms of not allowing their children to have fireworks."
In a bid to stop youngsters buying fireworks, outlets will be sent letters explaining the legalities both in storing and selling. This will be followed by a personal visit.
Police, working with Trading Standards, will also carry out test purchasing using underage children.
Sgt Holbrook said: "If the public are aware that fireworks are being sold to under-age children, we need them to highlight the offending shops so we can make sure they are targeted."
Police are working in partnership with other agencies such as the fire brigade, trading standards, local authorities and residents' associations.
Insp Phil Cottam said: "I am aware of the problems experienced last year in the run up to bonfire night.
"People who wish to use fireworks should only do so in a safe environment, never in a public place and never in circumstances which cause distress to others.
"In addition the police will be adopting a very firm line this year in relation to those who misuse fireworks and I welcome the introduction of 'Operation Enlighten' in this respect."
Northumberland Gazette, 19 September 2002, Early Bangs
Guy Fawkes apparently has come early this year, for some reason we have bangers going off all day and in the evening we have a night of bangers and fireworks.
Sometimes they go on until early morning. The police are turning a blind eye to it all.
Do they have any idea what distress is happening to animals and older residents around the town of Amble.
Telegraph 17 September 2002 Police issue 130 on-the-spot fines in three weeks
Police in the West Midlands handed out £9,000 worth of on-the-spot fines during the first three weeks of a new scheme aimed at cracking down on anti-social behaviour, the force said yesterday.
Officers issued 71 tickets for threatening and abusive behaviour, 37 tickets for being drunk and disorderly, 13 for wasting police time, 10 for being drunk in the highway and two for sending a false message.
The penalties were introduced last month to help police deal with minor offences immediately, reducing paperwork and lengthy and costly court cases.
They are being piloted by five forces and officers were "delighted" at their new powers, according to their employers.
Officers have the power to issue fines of £40 or £80 depending on the severity of the offence. The money, payable within 21 days, is collected in a similar way to speeding tickets.
The fines can only be issued if the offender admits his misdemeanour. The tickets do not leave the offender with a criminal conviction. Should the offender deny the accusation, he can take the case to court but will receive a criminal record if found guilty.
Other crimes covered include making hoax 999 calls or annoying telephone calls, trespassing on a railway and throwing fireworks or stones at trains.
Chief Insp James Andronov, of West Midlands Police, said the scheme had proved a success and many officers wanted its range to be extended to include offences such as dropping litter and causing minor damage.
"The feedback we have received from officers is these new powers are very welcome and many have said how beneficial the scheme is proving," he said.
"It is providing a potent deterrent to would-be offenders, releasing officers more quickly to frontline duties and reducing delays in the courts."
Research carried out in the West Midlands showed that the cost of police time at court is more than £600,000 a year, equivalent to 25 constable posts.
September 17 2002, this is Gloucestershire, FIREWORKS ALREADY
Madam - One recent Sunday morning, at 12.15am, I was woken by sounds that were like gun fire.
Disturbed, I looked out of the window and saw the sky filled with beautiful fireworks. They were in the direction of Sudeley Castle.
Who was letting them off at such an hour? It wasn't November 5, when householders can expect noise and can comfort friends, children and old people.
Is this legal? Is there not a bylaw to protect villagers from such disturbance at such a late hour?
I should be interested to know.
Name supplied, Winchcombe.
BBC News 16 September 2002, Insurance bills dampen bonfire night
Bonfire night parties across the region are under threat because of rocketing insurance premiums.
Insurance companies say smaller displays are not worth the risk - forcing the cancellation of at least one firework party.
One of the first displays to go is at Westfield in Norfolk.
Villager Helen Howes said the event, which attracted 70 people last year, was being cancelled.
"Unfortunately this year we won't be having a Guy Fawkes celebration. We have been unable to get insurance cover."
In neighbouring Suffolk, Gareth Mutimer, of Thunder Burst Fireworks, who organises up to a dozen charity displays, says premiums have risen by 2000% despite an excellent safety record.
"I've been ringing round for cover. One insurance company has given me a quote of about £500. Last year is was around £25 per display. The others just write you off - they do not want to know," he said.
Ipswich insurance broker Tim Ryan said the size of the claims was becoming much higher.
Express and Star 16 September 2002, Please end this annual misery
Is it too much to ask this government littered with failures to stop the sale of fireworks, especially bangers, starting four weeks before Guy Fawkes day and ending four weeks afterwards. Surely this is not so very much to request.
I and hundreds of thousands of others with pets who every year are forced to see the utter misery and absolute terror these dogs and cats go through lasting for hours at a time.
My own dog, and two dogs before this one, lose all reason, trembling non-stop and running in all directions in a vain attempt to escape the noise, which to them is possibly ten times louder.
Three to four hundred years ago when the first gun was invented the novelty for humans was to shoot virtually any animal or bird. So much so that most animals and birds now instinctively are born with this terror of the big bang.
My vet will only allow me to give them a few sedating tablets and then only for Guy Fawkes night. He was a vet in South Africa and he informs me that all fireworks are banned there.
There is a very large pond at the back of my house with normally two swans living there. When the Sandwell council held their annual firework display in West Bromwich all their swans from four or five lakes, numbering over 20 flew to this smaller pond that same night and over the next week all including our two fled, driven away by the constant explosions.
I'm sure many parents would welcome making the sale of fireworks illegal altogether or if not the usual period of a month before and a month after.
JT, West Bromwich.
Herts Advertiser, 12 September 2002, Hot Topic Raised
FIREWORK celebrations which are plaguing local residents come under the spotlight next week.
The public are invited to have their say and hear from experts on the control and sale of fireworks at next Tuesday's meeting of St Albans District Council's overview and scrutiny committee for community services.
Representatives from trading standards and the police will explain the current legislation affecting fireworks.
Committee chairman, Cllr Andrew Rose, said: "Residents are increasingly voicing their concern that the increased use of fireworks throughout the year is causing a public nuisance.
"Since the millennium it is now common to see fireworks at all types of celebration throughout the year. I hope the committee will hear the views of residents and their concern and we will discuss the current legislation controlling fireworks to see if it meets the needs of the community."
Further information can be obtained from 01727 819525.
This is Local London, 12 September 2002, Fireworks fury
Have I missed any announcements regarding firework night?
Ever since I was a boy in the 50s it was once a year. Now in the St Dunstans Hill area we have fireworks going off a couple of times a week, every week!
B. L. Cheam
Manchester Online, 11 September 2002 Fireworks ban for teen louts
TWO teenagers have been banned from using fireworks after terrorising locals for more than a year.
Neil McMullen and Steven Jones, both aged 17 and from Swinton, have been made the subject of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders after 73 complaints were made against them over 14 months.
Magistrates at Salford imposed the order after an application was made by Salford City Council.
The pair had been setting off fireworks, lighting fires and throwing aerosol cans onto a bonfire.
The court heard the teenagers also smashed windows, had been part of a larger group drinking alcohol in public, shouting in the early hours, abusing residents and urinating in public.
Jones, of Kingsley Road, also raced cars near his home, caused a disturbance by revving the vehicle early one morning and made a car hit a kerb when he threw eggs at it.
The court was told he had also threatened an individual with a knife and damaged a police vehicle.
Under the order, McMullan and Jones must not act in an anti-social manner in Salford; let off fireworks; use or threaten violence; carry weapons or drink alcohol in public places; drive vehicles in a manner likely to upset anyone or damage or threaten to damage property.
The order against Jones expires in 2005 and McMullen, of Shakespeare Road, faces a two-year order.
Coun David Lancaster, the city's crime and disorder spokesman, said: "Here is clear evidence that we will not tolerate people who wilfully cause alarm or distress in our city. There is quite simply no excuse for this sort of behaviour which upsets and terrorises people."
The pair risk a custodial sentence if they breach the order.
icCoventry, 9 September 2002, Crackdown on city fireworks By Gareth Lewis
Tough new rules to stop noisy fireworks being let off at all hours could be brought in as part of a crackdown in Coventry.
The city could be the first in the country to get its own bylaws to deal with the nuisance and danger of large fireworks. Councillors meet on Thursday to consider pushing the government to let Coventry become the first council to go it alone.
They want to tighten up the law on who can sell larger fireworks and limit the times when fireworks can be let off. A motion calling for the changes will be proposed to a meeting of the full city council when a Good Neighbour Code on fireworks is also likely to be adopted.
Before and after last bonfire night, the Evening Telegraph was inundated with complaints from residents about noisy fireworks being let off in streets day and night. The council is now calling on the government to only allow the sale of Category 3 display fireworks to licensed and approved display organisers rather then the general public. Category 3 means the public has to stand at least 25 metres away and includes some bangers and air bombs. Clive Townend, head of trading standards, said: "They are not suitable for all but the largest domestic gardens and we believe the sale should be restricted. At the moment they are perfectly legal and we think they cause the most problems."
The motion, from Cllr John McNicholas will call for bylaws limiting the times fireworks can be used and giving the council powers to restrict licensing. Cllr McNicholas (Lab, Lower Stoke) said: "This issue has been my biggest post bag for years - everyone enjoys fireworks but not at two o'clock in the morning.''
September 9 2002, Manchester Evening News, Too loud!
YES, the fireworks are here again (Postbag, Aug 27). Another year has gone by and nothing has been done. Children are buying them three months before November 5, and the bangs are as loud as ever.
Surely a colourful display is sufficient without the bangs.
A 100,000 signature petition was sent to Parliament last year, but it doesn't seem to have made any difference.
Our government completely disregards people's and animals' distress. How would they like bangs outside their front door morning, noon and night for six months a year?
We can't turn it off or run away from it, unfortunately.
"Guy Fawkes," Salford
LIKE other readers, I am sick of fireworks. I, too, have a dog, who goes absolutely demented at the sound of fireworks and runs around the room, barking hysterically.
This lasts for four or five hours at a time. I spent last winter writing to my MP, the council's environmental health department and the Department of Trade and Industry to complain about fireworks, all to no avail.
The arguments that are put forward when it is suggested there should be a total ban on their sale are petty to the extreme. Nobody seems to care, and the MPs taking part in debates on the subject in the House of Commons probably live in affluent, leafy suburbs, where there is no fireworks problem. Where I live fireworks are going off all the year round, and between September to January they are exploding every night from around 4.30pm until 11pm. It's about time something was done about it and there was a clampdown on the shopkeepers, who I suspect are selling them to people under the age of 18.
I am just dreading winter this year, as it will probably be me who ends up demented and hysterical.
J. S. Swinton
This Is Bradford , 9 September 2002, Elderly live in fear after arson attack
Neighbours say they are living in fear of teenage firebugs following a series of bungalow arson attacks.
In the latest blaze a 74-year-old widow suffering from angina had a lucky escape when firemen woke her in her bed.
Flames had spread to Mary Delporte's home after thugs set fire to her M-registered Renault Clio outside on the drive.
The car was burnt out. The wooden trim of her roof also suffered damage, a burglar alarm melted and windows of neighbouring bungalows cracked in the heat.
Her next-door neighbour, who has been the victim of two arson attacks, claims to have witnessed an earlier attempt by teenagers to set the car ablaze the previous week. Mohammad Afzal said he saw a juvenile aged around 14 stuffing a ball of paper between the tyre and the wheel trim of the car.
The youth ran off when spotted, leaving a cloth at the scene. Mrs Delporte, pictured, of Shuttleworth Lane, Fairweather Green, said she has been targeted by young thugs who have thrown bricks through her windows and thumped on the walls and windows of her bungalow. "We are scared, because we don't know what they are going to do next," she said.
"They need someone to knock some sense into them. When the firemen banged on my bedroom window I was scared because I thought it was the thugs. I put my head under the sheets and hid."
Mrs Delporte added that firefighters had told her she was lucky the car had a plastic fuel tank as an exploding metal tank could have damaged properties.
Firefighters from Fairweather Green Station were called to the blaze at just before 2am on Saturday.
They tried to smash their way into her home before waking her by banging on the window. Mr Afzal, 58, said his house was attacked by arsonists twice in the space of two nights. On the second occasion thugs attached a firework to his door which caused damage.
The previous evening his home filled with smoke when young yobs threw a burning tyre on to his roof and set fire to a milk bottle hatch. "It is frightening to live here alone, I am scared," he said.
"I was lucky when the firework came through the door because if it could have hit me."
Mary's son Roland Delponte said: "This was mindless violence. People of mum's generation are not used to teenagers behaving like this. They were brought up on traditional Bradford values, when people used to look after each other and kept their kids on the straight and narrow."
Police are making inquiries into the latest blaze. A spokesman confirmed they received a report from West Yorkshire Fire Service of a suspicious car fire .
Firefighters are treating the blaze as malicious ignition
Evening Post, 7 September 2002, MEN FINED FOR FIREWORK SALE
The owners of a village post office have been fined £400 after a 14-year-old child bought fireworks in an undercover trading standards operation. Magistrates heard that no questions were asked of the girl who went into the premises in South Normanton Market Place. She had been sent there by Derbyshire County Council trading standards department as part of routine checks on shopkeepers. A part-time assistant was seen to sell her an £8.99 box of Bright Star fireworks. David Leivers and his son Darren, who run the post office and shop, did not attend Ilkeston Magistrates' Court yesterday. Through their solicitor, they admitted selling fireworks to someone under 18 last October.
Trading standards officer Roger Smith told the court that the 14-year-old was told to tell the truth if questioned about her age - but she was never asked. Mr Smith said: It's part of an ongoing programme of testing in which we use children to make purchases of age-limited goods. The sale of fireworks is limited to people over 18."
He added that there were very strict Home Office guidelines in relations to the use of children in the type of operation carried out.
"They must answer any question truthfully and that is what they do." Nicola Hunter, for the post office owners, said the assistant no longer worked at the shop.
The owners had told staff that under-18s should not be sold fireworks but their instructions were not put in writing. They ordered posters to be stuck up behind the counter outlining the fireworks law. Miss Hunter said: "Ironically, they arrived two days after the test purchase and that was a shame. "When you apply for a licence you are sent a pack containing leaflets which explain the law. Both Mr Leivers read this and asked members of staff to read it. It was kept in a file and the defendants feel they did everything they could to educate employees and ensure there was no slip in the law. "It is not a case of turning a blind eye to make a sale."
Costs of £120 were ordered against both the shopkeepers.
Campaign to restrict sales
The Post's "Be Safe Not Sorry" campaign has called for tougher regulation over the sale of fireworks to youngsters.
The campaign was launched last December after a deluge of letters from readers saying they were fed up with the noise, nuisance and distress caused by fireworks.
It calls for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, so they are only available to those organising a licensed event.
Tom Munn and his father Graham, from Worcester, launched our campaign after the 12-year-old was temporarily blinded when a firework exploded in his face.
The campaign quickly gained the backing of several Notts MPs, including Broxtowe's Nick Palmer, who vowed to bring it to Parliament.
City councillors have also discussed a by-law for Nottingham, restricting the times when fireworks can be set off as well as the location of firework displays and the period of time in which they can be bought. Erewash Borough Council is holding discussions with Derbyshire County Council to see what it can do to increase fines given out to those who break firework regulations - as well as refusing licences to retailers who sell to under-age youngsters.
The Government has also revealed it will look to review current firework legislation and Prime Minister Tony Blair has been handed a dossier of the Post's campaign.
September 7 2002, Manchester Evening News, Bemused
I commiserate with "Catherine Wheel" (Postbag, Aug 27). who is made to suffer from the Salford firework virus. The perpetrators are rarely children, but juvenile adults. Last October, 1 was in the East End of London for two weeks and not one firework did I hear. They were rather bemused when I told them our fireworks start in August here.
Maybe if the Luftwaffe had dropped the same tonnage on Salford, we would not have the fascination for bangs and noise.
R. C. Salford
This Is Bradford, 5 September 2002, Late-night firework folk have lost gunpowder plot
LETTING off very loud fireworks on the streets of a quiet town in the middle of the night is an act bound to irritate more people than it could ever hope to impress.
There is no excuse for such annoying behaviour, but it has become all too common over the past few years.
In the first place, anyone too dim to realise that hundreds of slumbering people would be adversely affected by the noise should be denied possession of such dangerous implements as fireworks in the first place, if only to prevent an incompetent mishap resulting in serious physical injury.
If, on the other hand, those responsible were bright enough to realise the consequences of their actions and didn't give a fig for the sleeping residents, should we really be allowing such callous individuals the freedom to run around our town in the middle of the night?
One single incident apart, most of us have realised that the former Bonfire Night now encompasses a period which could stretch to around three months of the year, with the constant explosions and whoosh of rockets filling the autumn night for weeks on end.
Not content with this, more and more people are finding it impossible to have a party in summer without trying to emulate a particularly lively night on the Somme in 1916.
In the modern world, with wonder after wonder being beamed into our homes via cable and satellite 24-hours a day, simple, domestic firework displays provide scant competition and over the years have lost their lustre and power to impress our increasingly sophisticated children.
Therefore, it is impossible to escape the suspicion that the increasing popularity of tacky, but noisy amateur firework displays results from their knack of providing an opportunity for inadequate adults to vent their spleen and envy on the rest of us by keeping us awake at night and alarming our pets.
One sad consequence is that all appeals for consideration will inevitably fail to ignite any consciences at all.
September 4 2002, Manchester Evening News, Postbag
I, too, have been troubled by fireworks (Postbag). They sound like an atomic bomb going off. Where are the children getting these fireworks from? Any shops caught selling them should be prosecuted. Isn't it time Guy Fawkes Night was abolished? Animals suffer and children get burnt. The whole thing is just outdated and dangerous.
This is Leicestershire 4 September 2002, CRACKING DOWN ON THE DEAFENING FIREWORKS DIN
Watchdogs have stepped up their campaign to quieten the annual din caused by fireworks.
Officials from Leicester City Council yesterday tested everything from rockets to Roman candles to demonstrate just how much noise they make. They measured in decibels fireworks with names such as Cyborg Massacre and Plasma Blast. The noise was the equivalent of standing next to a nightclub sound system. The council's anti-noise nuisance team is spearheading a campaign to reduce the racket which causes scores of complaints - last year there were 56. Paul Toplass, acting head of the domestic-noise team, said: "People should take a little time to consider, especially in built-up areas, what the effect of fireworks is having on other people."
Mr Toplass said it was difficult to prosecute under existing noise laws because it was hard to locate the offenders. "In and around the city, we can see the fireworks in the air, but we can't find where they are coming from," he said. "This demonstration illustrates the kind of noise which many people hear in their homes - night in, night out in the run up to Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali. "This is obviously very disturbing for the elderly or people with children or pets."
The authority's campaign comes just days after city councillors called on MPs to lobby the Government to change the law and ban noisy fireworks. However, it is highly unlikely any change in the law would be introduced in time for this year's celebrations.
Brian Johnson, one of the city's senior trading standards officers, said some of the persistent problems of fireworks were caused by young people setting them off in the street. He warned that trading standards would be staging an undercover operation to catch any shopkeepers selling them to under-18s. "We can only do what we can to stop fireworks falling into young hands," he said. "Children quite easily get older people to buy fireworks for them - we can only educate people of the dangers." He said most people injured by fireworks were aged under 20, with a third of those being aged under 16.
Dennis Duggan, of Oakland Avenue, off Melton Road, in Leicester, said: "When one goes off close by, you feel the house shake.
"Last year, they started on October 12 and carried on well into November." A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium urged all shop and store holders not to sell fireworks to people that they believe are under the age of 18. "This is one issue which we impress on to our members annually, and is of extreme importance to retailers and customers alike," he said.
This is Bristol 3 September 2002, SAVE FIREWORKS FOR BONFIRE NIGHT
People in the Cave Grove area of Emersons Green were the irresponsible and selfish in holding an unexpected firework spectacular last Saturday.
The display was exceptionally loud and went on for the best part of half an hour. My two cats, who had been sat quietly in the garden, ran off in terror and could not be found until later in the evening.
No doubt, the people involved with the display will give a valid reason for the event but for all responsible pet owners in the area it was a very thoughtless act.
Organised firework displays, like the recent event at the Bristol Docks, are very entertaining but I, like many other people, would like to see the sale of fireworks to members of the public banned.
With autumn just around the corner we are dreading the months ahead and are constantly concerned about letting our animals go into our garden during the evening.
Can I urge members of the public who share my views to write to their MPs?
A resident of Berkeley Way, Emersons Green.
icNorthWales - 2 September 2002, Clampdown on the yobs
POLICE begin issuing spot fines today for anti-social behaviour and low-level crime in part of North Wales.
The fixed penalty tickets were introduced at midnight last night as part of a Home Office pilot scheme in Conwy and Denbighshire, to run over the next 12 months.
Officers throughout the force's Central Division have received special training to administer the scheme.
Anyone over 18 causing nuisance crimes could be in line to receive fines ranging from £40 to £80 from officers on the street or at police stations.
Offences which could attract a £40 fine include being drunk and disorderly, throwing fireworks in a public place, trespassing on a railway or throwing objects at a train, buying or attempting to buy alcohol for someone under 18, and drinking alcohol in certain public places.
Fines of £80 can be imposed for wasting police time or giving a false report, making a false fire alarm, and using threatening words or behaviour.
Chief Inspector Mike Mullis said: "Unfortunately we will not be able to tackle problems of depositing litter, despite representations made to the Home Office. However we intend looking at ways of developing this scheme through our involvement in the project, and will be liaising closely with the other four forces involved."
Mr Mullis said the scheme would help improve the quality of life for the communities and help reduce the fear of crime.
"It will also allow police officers more flexibility in the way that offenders are dealt with, and it should go some way to lighten the paperwork both officers and support staff have to complete under the present system," he said.
The scheme would be closely monitored, and the number of offences would be compared with those of last year. The information will then be forwarded to the Home Office.
Another benefit of the scheme is that it cuts down on court time, though offenders wishing to contest the fixed penalty can opt to go to court, as they can at present for some motoring offences.
Mr Mullis stressed officers will not be asking for money to be handed over on the spot, and that fines will have to be paid through the court offices in Denbigh.
Manchester Online, 2 September 2002, Racist thug banned from city district
A RACIST teenage member of a 12-strong gang which terrorised a Manchester community has now been banned from the area.
Luke Graham hurled abuse and spat at residents, threw stones and fireworks at people's homes and attacked passing buses in Abbey Hey. He also removed roadwork signs and placed barriers in the streets to block traffic. City magistrates have now placed the 15-year-old on an anti-social behaviour order for three years. He is banned from associating with 12 other named gang members in public and entering empty property in the city. Graham also cannot enter the following four premises: Raja Brothers off-licence, High Lee Chinese takeaway, Kings Food Store and Abbey Hey Post Office.
Manchester Online, 2 September 2002, Salute for brave Rosie
PLUCKY hearing dog Rosie defied cruel thugs and a savage attack to scoop a bravery award. The 16-year-old Jack Russell from Tyldesley came second in a nationwide search to find the bravest dog in Britain after she lost part of her intestine when vicious thugs tied fireworks to her. Then she was attacked by a German Shepherd which "shook her like a rag doll". She had to undergo a lifesaving two-hour and deaf owner Valerie Fairhurst said: "We were so frightened she'd leave us." She returned home heavily bandaged, but she alerted her owners when the phone or the doorbell rang even though her body was swollen and she was unable to walk.
Valerie, 48, said: "We couldn't believe that she was still trying to help us in spite of everything that had happened to her."
Valerie works for Salford social services and, like 56-year-old husband Dennis, has been deaf from birth. Rosie is trained to alert them to doorbells, smoke alarms and phones. Best-selling author and competition judge Jilly Cooper was impressed by Rosie's heroics.
Dog-lover Jilly said: "Rosie is a shining example of endurance and courage." Dennis added: "She may not have come first, but she's a winner to us. She's a heroine in every sense."
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