Investigation underway in Leeds over 'year round' fireworks use and noise complaints
The antisocial use of fireworks is set to be investigated following complaints of “year round” use.
Leeds City Council’s environment scrutiny committee heard how certain communities are being blighted by the noise of “year-round” firework use.
The meeting also heard stories of fireworks being thrown at passing vehicles, while some councillors claimed illegal sales could be taking place in their wards.
A council officer also confirmed that imported fireworks that did not conform to British standards were a “growing concern” in the city.
It followed a request for scrutiny by leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter, who claimed the noise was disturbing people’s sleep while compromising the safety of individuals.
Presenting the petition on behalf of Coun Carter, his ward colleague Coun Amanda Carter told the meeting: “Nobody wants to stop the pleasure and enjoyment of fireworks but it is becoming an increasing problem about the noise and antisocial behaviour.
“One is the effect on quality of life, antisocial behaviour and the effect on pets and wildlife. You can hear them two miles away – they are so loud these days.
“There is a lot of antisocial behaviour associated with them. There is cruelty to animals – people do dreadful things. Pets are terrified at the noise of fireworks.”
An officer from Leeds antisocial behaviour team responded: “We have done work and research into the use of fireworks by the general public and for displays by professional companies.
“There are very strict regulations and legislation around storage and also about the weight of explosives.
“Trading standards are responsible for taking action against shops and outlets that haven’t got permission or haven’t got a licence. There is an awareness that sometimes fireworks are sometimes imported and are not to the standards of the UK – that is a growing concern.
“Some of the general fireworks seem to be getting louder, and some of the reports that we get seem to be around the noise levels of the fireworks.”
She added that rules state fireworks shouldn’t be used after 11pm or before 7am without “relevant permissions”, except on permitted fireworks nights.
The penalties for using fireworks outside curfew hours can be imprisonment for up to six months or a “substantial” fine.
Coun Pauleen Grahame (Lab) said: “In Crossgates and Whinmoor, the issue for me is the noise. The sale of them needs looking at.”
Coun Angela Gabriel (Lab) added that she believed unlicensed sellers of fireworks were not being prosecuted.
Coun Javaid Akhtar (Lab) said: “This is close to my heart, because I represent an area where we have had an issue with this over the years.
“Clearly fireworks, within a timescale, residents don’t mind and we don’t mind. But it is the misuse of those fireworks that causes problems.
“When kids start throwing those fireworks at the moving vehicles and at people’s properties, that causes problems.
“We have worked closely with the police for the whole year. But we need to have a uniform policy across Yorkshire to have some sort of restriction.
“While the police numbers are down, they are stretched out and worked hard all year round – they have to work hard on that night to make sure people are safe.
“Misuse of fireworks is dangerous. We need to have a campaign – there are people selling from their cars in estates. We need to be more proactive on this issue.”
Coun Matthew Robinson (Con), who co-signed the letter from Coun Carter, spoke of the bonfire night disturbances in Harehills last month.
He said: “On social media I saw lots of revellers enjoying the festivities at Roundhay Park, only to wake up the next morning and see on BBC news people trying to set fire to Harehills.
“It was one of the most distressing and disappointing images of Leeds that I have ever seen. It is absolutely right that we look into this.”
The committee resolved to set up a formal inquiry into the issue of fireworks in the city.