Fireworks ban backed by Midlothian councillors

Individuals are to be banned from buying fireworks in Midlothian. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Individuals are to be banned from buying fireworks in Midlothian. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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A LOTHIANS council is set to become the first in Scotland to ban the sale of fireworks to members of the public.

Councillors in Midlothian have backed the Labour-led motion and will ask the Scottish Government to rubberstamp the move.

It was put forward amid increasing misuse of fireworks in the region and also in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Organisers of licensed events would still be allowed to purchase fireworks, but they would not be for sale in shops.

The decision has faced criticism from retail bodies and some politicians in Midlothian.

COMMENT: People will just buy them elsewhere

There is no argument against sales being limited to licensed displays – this will allow people to continue to enjoy Bonfire Night in a safe environment for everyone.

Adam Montgomery

Councillor Adam Montgomery, who put forward the motion, said: “This is a move to ensure that misuse of fireworks is reduced, and we will work with the police and fire services to have a viable sales system in operation to prevent random usage of what are now explosive devices, far removed from what were traditionally bangers and sparklers. A couple of days after the tragic events in Paris a firework was set off in the street, causing mass panic and alarm. I can only imagine if one of these large devices were activated at an airport or railway station that mayhem would ensue.

“Newbattle High School was subjected to a lockdown in 2014 when explosions were heard near the school which turned out to be firework misuse, and this is a further example of why restricting sales should be progressed to help prevent this type of incident from reoccurring.

“On another front, four dogs went missing last year in Midlothian due to indiscriminate use of fireworks with the resulting upset to owners.

“There is quite simply no argument against sales being limited to licensed displays – this will allow people to continue to enjoy Bonfire Night in a safe environment for everyone.”

However, rival independent councillor Peter de Vink said anyone who wanted to buy fireworks would simply travel into Edinburgh or East Lothian.

He said: “If the public are banned from buying fireworks in their own local authority area it’s likely they will just go somewhere else to buy them. As usual, the idea hasn’t been thought through.”

Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, fears local shops will miss out on lucrative trade in the build-up to Bonfire Night.

He said: “The automatic reaction is always to impose another form of regulation on businesses when what the council should be doing is educating those who are misusing the fireworks. More regulations is not the solution.”

The plans will now be taken forward by Midlothian’s community planning board and will need the green light from the Scottish Government.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Any byelaw proposed by the local authority would have to be agreed by Scottish Ministers.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com