Will a ban on fireworks prevent Edinburgh Bonfire Night mayhem?

In November 2017, gangs of youths caused more than �40,000 of damage in parts of Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
In November 2017, gangs of youths caused more than �40,000 of damage in parts of Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
0
Have your say

CALLS are growing for a ban on fireworks as part of a Scottish Government consultation on their sale.

Chairman of the TRIM and Friends of West Pilton community group, Robert Pearson, said tough measures are needed to protect the public.

On November 5, 2017, gangs of youths caused more than �40,000 of damage. Picture: Ian Rutherford

On November 5, 2017, gangs of youths caused more than �40,000 of damage. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Pilton and Muirhouse were caught up in a night of mayhem on Bonfire Night in 2017 when cars were torched and a policewoman hit in the neck by a rocket.

“There needs to be a total ban on the sale or more responsible selling, more control and more organised community events across Edinburgh,” said Mr Pearson.

“The sale of fireworks to individuals is downright dangerous. These fireworks are explosives and, in the wrong hands, can cause serious injury.

“They’re more affordable now and shops glorify the fact that they’re selling them. At events, accidents can happen but they reduce greatly.”

READ MORE: Public views sought on regulation of fireworks in Scotland

For about three hours on November 5, 2017, gangs of youths caused more than £40,000 of damage by throwing fireworks at each other, passers-by, homes and cars.

Three vehicles were burned out – with one of them driven onto a bonfire – as residents cowered in their homes. When police and firefighters were called in, fireworks and rocks were hurled at them forcing them to withdraw but not before one was hit in the neck.

It prompted senior officers to launch their largest ever Bonfire Night operation last year to prevent any repeat, with dispersal zones enforced and riot cops on stand-by.

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh said: “Fireworks, when used responsibly can add to the atmosphere and excitement around major events and celebrations.

“What is not acceptable, however, is when they are used to cause damage to property, create fear and alarm within communities, or when they are deliberately utilised to injure members of the public, including emergency service workers.

“We welcome any consultation that promotes the safe and appropriate use of fireworks.”

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham launched the consultation, open until May 13, with new laws on the table to ban their sale to protect public safety and animal welfare.

Ms Denham said “From Hogmanay to summer festivals to Diwali and Bonfire night, fireworks are a focal point of a range of celebrations through the year.

“Most people enjoy fireworks responsibly but if used inappropriately or without respect for others they can cause great distress or even physical injury to people and to animals.

“From conversations with members of the public and emergency service workers I am aware of concern about the use and sale of fireworks to individuals. We want to work with others to reduce the negative impact of fireworks and the public’s voice is vital in shaping our approach going 
forward.

“While much of existing legislation on the sale of fireworks is reserved to Westminster, we hope this consultation will identify any gaps in the law and highlight where the regulation of fireworks could be improved.”

andy.shipley@jpimedia.co.uk