RSPCA’s call for action over fireworks backed by council

Residents have been asked by Biddulph town councillors to consider the potential impacts of their fireworks displays, after the RSPCA raised concerns they could be harmful to animals and vulnerable people.
A motion suggested by the animal welfare charity was passed at a full council meeting last week, with some councillors suggesting they would support a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public.
During the meeting, on 12th November, fireworks could be heard being set off in Biddulph, a week after bonfire night.  
The RSPCA recently wrote to local authorities around the country to ask for action to be taken on fireworks displays, arguing that while the noisy and colourful pyrotechnics bring enjoyment to many, they can also be a source of fear and distress.
Introducing the motion, Coun Jill Salt said: “There is a lot of concern about the prolonged nature of firework displays. 
“Instead of sticking to one particular date, they are occurring over a long period of time, so we have been contacted by the RSPCA, who are asking us to accept their draft motion.”
The RSPCA’s suggested motion reads: “To encourage all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people.
“To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people, including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks.
“To write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays.
“To encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.”
Councillors were in agreement with the motion, with Coun John Jones speaking in support of a ban on the public sale of fireworks altogether.
He said: “I fully support this. I’m not a killjoy, but when I was a youngster fireworks were only on bonfire night, whereas now they go on for much longer.
“They do cause a lot of distress, and many people’s dogs are absolutely terrified by them, and they can also distress farm animals like sheep, horses, and cows.
“If I had my way I would go even further and ban the sale of fireworks to the public. I think it’s bizarre that we still sell high explosives to the public, because some of these things are designed for professional displays.
“I know that realistically we won’t get them banned, but there are a lot of good organised displays now, so there is really no need to put yourself and other people at risk by having your own.”
His points were echoed by Coun Ken Harper, who added: “I would also support a ban. I’ve had dogs for many years that have ended up hiding behind my television set because they’re so frightened by fireworks.
“I bought a device that you plug into the wall which is meant to calm them down, but it stunk to high heaven. I think fireworks are being abused, and the trouble that they cause is horrific.”
During a discussion on when displays should be held, Coun Wayne Rogers suggested: “I think it should be restricted to a one-week period around the 5th November, because nowadays you hear fireworks going off weeks before and weeks after.
Coun Hilda Sheldon then highlighted the economic benefits fireworks can bring to many community groups, feeling that the scheduling of their displays could be better co-ordinated.
She said: “For many groups fireworks are a major fundraising element, so a lot of groups don’t want to have them on the same night as others. I think we need to be better at seeing how things can be co-ordinated in a better way.”
Rounding off the discussion, Coun Kevin Jackson said: “I’d like to congratulate Sainsbury’s for the restrictions they put on their sale of fireworks this year. 
“I wouldn’t go as far as a ban, but I do think these things evolve, and there may come a point where a ban is put in place, although I think that would be a conversation for another time.”
Councillors voted to approve the RSPCA’s suggested motion.

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