Bonfire night losing it’s spark for local councils

This year’s Guy Fawkes night celebrations have kept emergency services as busy as any other year. Services across Scotland reported calls ranging between four and ten times what they’d expect from a normal night.

But despite a few incidents: a man in Glasgow admitted to hospital for smoke inhalation and fire crews being attacked with fireworks as they tried to stop a fire in Renfrewshire, the signs are that fireworks displays and bonfires are gradually becoming more controlled and safer.

Part of the reason for this is the stricter laws regarding the sale of fireworks. Measures introduced by the 2003 Fireworks Act mean that they’re only available for a three-week period around the 5th November and again for a short time around New Year. 

Impressive displays too expensive for some councils

It also makes it illegal for shops to sell fireworks to under 18s. Last month Trading Standards launched a campaign targeting 100 retailers across the UK to stop this happening.

There has also been a drive to raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks.

Over half the people injured by fireworks in Scotland are under 16, a play about fireworks aimed at this audience has been touring secondary schools across the country.

Despite the positive news it seems local councils across the country are finding it harder to fund free public fireworks displays.

A rugby club in Devon that had put on a fireworks display for the public in the past have decided that it will be too expensive this year.

The local council in York will not hold a free public fireworks display for the fourth year in a row because they say it’s too expensive. Ironic considering York is believed to be the birthplace of Guy Fawkes.

Similar examples have been seen across the UK, two popular displays in towns in Surrey were cancelled because of a shortfall in sponsorship money.

In a public consultation by the council the people of York were asked whether they thought a fireworks display, costing around £70,000 was good value for money. Most decided it wasn’t.

It could be that with money being even tighter this year more councils are looking to save by not holding expensive public fireworks displays.

It’s not the end for public displays yet though. In Northallerton, 30 miles from York, local council and fire services work together to put on a spectacular event proving that when they do go ahead, free fireworks displays are still popular.