Guy Fawkes' night fireworks are getting out of hand. It's time to ban these bombs or restrict their use – Helen Martin

Following Guy Fawkes’ night, the Evening News had almost a full page of complaints from the public about the uncontrolled extent of fireworks harassing the city.

Yes, it was worse this year. With no officially approved large gatherings, people decided to resort to their own “displays” in gardens or public areas.

We were subjected to them from Tuesday to Sunday, regardless of Guy Fawkes’ night being on Thursday. They’d start from about 5pm, presumably for kids, and carry on until midnight (or as my hairdresser claimed for her location, until 2am).

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She’s only in her twenties and it seemed her childhood fireworks were pretty similar to mine almost 60 years ago. We had a few little rockets that were lit and “shooshed” up to the sky giving off sparkles.

Animals terrified

We had little “volcano” pyramids about four inches tall that produced a sparkly shower, and a Catherine Wheel a few inches wide that was nailed to a wooden pole and whirled round firing off its colourful sparks. Including the little hand waving firework, that’s what they were all about – sparks and sparkles.

Today’s fireworks have been developed into completely dangerous weapons. They don’t “shoosh” or spark. They create noises like booms, bombs and gun-shots and fire off massive clouds of explosives that can be seen from miles away. That terrifies most animals such as pets, horses who gallop round in a panic and may not eat for days, farm animals and wildlife.

The Scottish SPCA instructed those with a firework night to warn their neighbours. They didn’t. The SPCA also advised people to keep cats in and avoid walking dogs after 5pm on November 5. But we couldn’t do that for a whole week.

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A deadly threat

Some cats disappeared and ran away. Others found somewhere to hide. Their owners were distressed and some are still worrying they were injured or killed.

That’s very possible because today’s fireworks are like those run by professionals rather than the safe, small ones of the past. They can be deadly.

There was one horse in Aberdeen who lost an eye. Two houses in Motherwell were set ablaze by fireworks and Scottish Fire and Rescue had 1100 calls. When they attended some areas, they were assaulted by the firework gangs. And of course, some children and adults are injured every year too.

Guy Fawkes is only one day, but lasts until the next weekend. We can now expect more fireworks all through winter when people are celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. It wouldn’t surprise me that even with Covid-19 going on, fireworks will still be shot, boomed and exploded on Hogmanay.

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Restrictions required

It seems likely that at some point in summer, even if a reduced Fringe and a minor Tattoo takes place, the same will happen again.

We have been told to expect new rules over modern fireworks but that’s complicated because the Scottish government can say where and when fireworks can be set off, but the law over the sale of fireworks is reserved to Westminster.

If we can’t ban them or ban their explosive bomb and gun-shot noises, at least we have to restrict public use – and impose limitations on the official fireworks by councils or even events such as the Edinburgh Tattoo.

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