Calls for tighter restrictions as Luton residents describe ‘anger and resentment’ over nuisance fireworks
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From upset dogs and crying children to disturbed sleep and general annoyance, fireworks seem to be a growing problem in Luton and with it, anger and resentment towards the culprits.
Residents in the town have begun airing their grievances and notifying others to fireworks being set off in their area on FED UP OF FIREWORKS - LUTON, a Facebook group with over 300 members. People in the group are calling for tighter restrictions on the sale of fireworks - in the hope that the disruption will stop.
Linda Frith said: “Fireworks are the blight of our lives living in the Bushmead area of Luton. We hear them any time of the day or night. I understand that we live in a multicultural society and festivals and religious events are celebrated.
"Surely a time limit could be imposed on these events. Or even a permit to allow fireworks at all.”
Another Bushmead resident, Mark Haydon, said: “There is a growing sense of anger and resentment amongst a lot of Luton residents in relation to the increasing use of fireworks.
“Fireworks are being increasingly used to celebrate birthday and weddings or, seemingly, just to create annoyance.”
He added: “My personal view is that no member of the public should be able to purchase what are essentially explosives, or launch them from domestic/private property, without some form of licensing.”
Currently, it is illegal to set off fireworks between the hours of 11pm and 7am, but these rules are frequently flouted, according to play-by-play posts on the group.
A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council: “Not only can the use of fireworks be extremely inconsiderate towards residents and their pets in an area far beyond their point of release, but it is against the law to let them off between 11pm and 7am. Breaking this curfew could mean an on-the-spot fine of £90, a fine of up to £5,000 or even a six months' jail sentence.
“The only exceptions are 5 November, when fireworks are allowed until midnight, and New Year, Chinese New Year and Diwali displays, which are allowed to continue until 1am.”
The council urged people to report misused fireworks to the police, but members of the group say their concerns often go ignored. Mark continued: “While people are upset by fireworks, it often is difficult for it to be a police priority as they are busy with lots of other serious matters. I’m sure they do what they can."
Bedfordshire Police said: “There are a number of legislations around the use of fireworks, which should be adhered too. If fireworks are being set off outside these legislations, it should be reported to the police.”
Luton North MP Sarah Owen attempted to get a bill passed in Parliament, which would give tougher fines to those breaking the rules. Sarah Owen said: “While many enjoy fireworks at this time of year, their misuse can have a serious impact on local residents. Many across Luton have written to me expressing their frustration with the antisocial use of fireworks – they keep people awake, terrify pets, and can have a serious impact on people’s mental and physical health.
“It was this that motivated me to bring my ‘Misuse of Fireworks Bill’ to Parliament. Currently, setting off fireworks after 11pm is already an offence, but in practice it is dealt with by poorly enforced £90 penalty notices, which is not acting as a deterrent against their anti-social use. After 13 years of damaging cuts to local police by the government, they do not have the resources and support they need to properly enforce the current laws.
“With the support of Dogs Trust, I hoped that the Misuse of Fireworks Bill would gain the support of the government and put a stop to the stress and anxiety caused by the misuse of these pyrotechnics. Unfortunately, the government did not consider our legislation to be an ‘appropriate course of action’, and the legislation fell when the 2022 session of Parliament ended.
“People have a right to feel safe and secure in their own neighbourhoods, and this is being undermined by firework misuse. With the new session of Parliament starting this week I will continue to draw attention to this serious issue and stand for the right of Luton residents to live in peaceful, disturbance-free neighbourhoods.”
For Sandra Swan, the problem has deeply affected her pet dog who can no longer go out on a walk. She explained: “My dog’s life has been severely limited by the increased regularity of fireworks. She no longer goes out after dark, she won’t even go for walks anymore due to the stress it has caused her because they are let off at all times of the day as well as the night.
"I spend £35 a month on calming products as well as an £50 a year for prescription anxiety medication from the vets which we use for the nights when we know the fireworks will be going all evening such as guy Fawkes, Diwali, NYE . I’ve tried working with dog behaviourists, and spent a small fortune on all the many products out there that purport to help anxiety in dogs, but nothing has helped.
"Even the maximum dose of the anxiety medication from the vets doesn’t stop her from panting, pacing, shaking and climbing in and out the bath and the shower cubicle, but I’m frightened about what would happen if I give her nothing.”
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “It's a really stressful time of year for animals, and us as their owners, and we share the huge concerns about the impact of fireworks.
We've been working really hard to spread awareness for our #BangOutOfOrder campaign during the last few weeks. The campaign is calling for several changes to firework regulations to prioritise animal safety: Limiting the sale and usage of fireworks: Fireworks should only be sold and let off for Bonfire Night specifically from October 29 to November 5, with similar time limitations for other traditional dates.
"Implementing firework control zones: Prohibit fireworks near horses' habitats, sensitive wildlife areas, farms, animal centres, or zoos to provide better protection for vulnerable individuals and animals.
“Reducing maximum noise levels: The maximum permitted noise level for the public sale of fireworks should be reduced from 120dB to 90dB, in line with international standards, to mitigate noise pollution and protect animals and individuals.”