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10th November 2012

Dear Peter Lilley,

As a resident of Hitchin, I am writing to you to express my concern over the increase in use of fireworks I feel I have noticed this year, and especially the growing trend for them to be purchased for ‘private’ use.

I feel we we are now at the stage where ‘bonfire’ or ‘fireworks’ night has been replaced with ‘fireworks season’, which now lasts several weeks. I am fairly certain that I have heard fireworks every night for the past week and a half, and even over breakfast this morning. In fact I can hear them going off as I write this. I have now reached the point where I struggle to understand how this level of use can be sanctioned? I was also surprised to see that even organised events have taken place on at least 3 separate dates this year, when I don’t see why they shouldn’t all be organised to fall on either the weekend closest to the fifth, or the fifth itself.

As an animal lover and member of a family with pets, I have had to watch our dogs tremble with fear around bonfire night through the years. Whilst this would be manageable for one or two nights around this time of year, it has become impossible to plan for as it is simply continuous. The RSPCA state that they received almost 300 calls in November alone last year. I am unable to find statistics on fireworks related injuries beyond 2005, but I can only imagine the cost to the NHS and emergency services far outweighs the VAT gained from sales.

Furthermore, I would like to ask why, when the government put out posters telling me to remain vigilant against the apparently ever present threat of terrorism, and to report any suspicious neighbours who may purchase fertiliser (as in the ‘Handyman? Pest Controller? Bomb Maker?’ poster I will never forget seeing) do we then declare ‘open season’ on purchasing explosives from our local supermarkets. Indeed if you can’t quite get your fill from there, the local papers advertise such things as ‘Nitro’ packs of fireworks for up to £400. I shudder to think what quantity of these explosives £400 can buy you. Not to mention the fact that many people store fireworks (undoubtedly with little precaution or knowledge of correct storage methods) for use at other private events such as birthdays etc. throughout the following year.

I would also like to inform you that on the 18th October this year, a full two and a half weeks before bonfire night, a friend of mine walking home from my house, actually had fireworks thrown at him from a car. Once again I fail to understand how the government can sanction the sale of such items to the public. I believe they should be restricted to organised events only, and that those events should only be allowed to take place within a strict and short timeframe around the fifth of November [ed. To include Diwali], and I personally cannot see the arguments for allowing the current use of fireworks to continue.

I would be interested to hear your views on this matter, and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Adam McDowall

P.S. You may have noticed that the date at the top of this letter is almost a year ago to the day. This is the actual date I emailed this same letter to your office. I have never received a response, nor even an acknowledgement which is why I have decided to post it in public this time.