Council calls on Government to make fireworks quieter

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 January 2020

The St Albans Cathedral fireworks display in Verulamium Park in 2019. Picture: Stephanie Belton

The St Albans Cathedral fireworks display in Verulamium Park in 2019. Picture: Stephanie Belton

Archant

For some they can be the spectacular highlight of a celebration, but for others and their animals fireworks can cause anguish and distress.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillors agreed on Tuesday (Jan 7) to take steps to limit the harm that can be caused by public displays - calling on organisers to give advance warning of displays and for noise limits on fireworks.

And they will encourage local suppliers to stock quieter fireworks for public display.

The council will now write to the Government calling for legislation to limit the sound of fireworks to 90dB - said to be the sound of a modern motorbike or prolonged shouting.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats borough councillor Malcolm Cowan, who called for the changes, said it would allow residents to take steps to reduce the stress on animals and residents, particularly when displays started at 'odd' times of the day or night.

"It's not not stopping anybody doing anything - just saying be a little bit more thoughtful, a little bit more careful," he said.

"And it's asking the council to help in that process, so that fireworks can continue to be enjoyed without as much of the disturbance they are causing at the moment."

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During the debate Conservative councillor Fiona Thomson, executive member for governance, public health and climate change, pointed to existing legislation governing the sale and use of fireworks - including a ban on the release of fireworks between 11pm and 7am.

As well as highlighting the distress unexpected fireworks could cause to residents with dementia and animals, she said she would like to enjoy 'more silent' fireworks.

And welcoming the motion, she said: "Absolutely happy to support this and I think we need encourage residents to be more responsible."

Following the debate the motion was backed by a majority of councillors - with 36 voting for, nine against and three abstentions.

Speaking against the motion was Conservative Cllr Stephen Boulton, executive member for environment and planning, who suggested 90dB was "not that loud".

He said he was opposed to calling for legislation that could not be policed and he said writing more letters to government risked the council appearing as 'the boy who cried wolf'.

Meanwhile the Conservative deputy leader of the council and executive member for resources Cllr Duncan Bell echoed this concern, suggesting that the more the council wrote to government the less they will take notice.

But Cllr Cowan said objecting to this because it says we will write to the government is about the worst reason for not supporting this he could think of.

"We do not, I believe, write to the same person in government every time we write," he said. "It's who is relevant to the particular issue in play."

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