It will soon be bonfire night again and our emergency services will be working overtime, and many people and plenty of animals will be cowering in the corner in fear. I do wonder whether in generations to come we will look back on this age marvel that the ability to buy and set off explosive products made of gunpowder was legal.
Every year at about this time I receive plenty of letters and emails urging me to do something about the shock that many households suffer, both humans and animals, due to the unexpected sounds of explosions invading their lives. We must accept that some people are more sensitive to sound and sudden shocks than others.
Also our animals. They have no idea what is going on and some get very scared. We used to have a Jack Russell Terrier who went mad at the sound of bangers until he went deaf and we could all relax.
Of course, the law has tightened since I was first elected, with my support. You can only buy fireworks between 15th October and 10th November, or over Christmas or Diwali and Chinese New Year. You cannot buy “adult” fireworks if you are under 18 and it is against the law to set off fireworks except for Bonfire Night, New Year etc.
It is also illegal to set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public places. The sanctions for breaking the law can be imprisonment for 6 months or a £5000 fine.
I think we now have the balance about right. Most people enjoy fireworks at an organised celebration the date of which is usually well publicised. That gives time to soften the blow. The new laws have reduced the amount of terror caused by young lads throwing bangers in the street.
Should we go further? I suspect that the law will gradually tighten as lobby groups increase their campaigns. Also the annual crop of injuries and tragedies mount up in the scales of public opinion. I would not like to ban fireworks altogether but increasingly I suspect they will only be viewable and useable by registered organisations. I would not like to lose the amazing fireworks competition on the Hoe every year, or the enormous fun to be had at Peacock Meadow which my grandchildren have oft enjoyed.
But while we’re having fun, we should all remember those who live in fear at this explosive time of year.