Gunpowder treason and plot

Posted by: Steve Toy on 06 November 2003

Posted on: 06 November 2003 by Steve Toy
I've voted for the second option myself, but anyone wishing to have a firework party, say, in their back garden could apply for a licence from their local council and this would be subject to certain conditions, and would only be valid for the eight days that straddle the fifth of November; Saturday to Saturday, and only until 10pm.

New Year's Day would be permissible too from midnight until 00:10 hours


Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Berlin Fritz
I totally agree with the British stance of treating fireworks as explosives, as that's what they really are. Berlin two weeks up tp New Year (Sylvester) is a million times worse because the things here are much cheaper relatively, and one can unbelievably buy mock pistols the whole year round, which fire small flare like banger/air bombs quite a distance. Chucking stuff off of balconies is a fave too.Basically ban all under 18's, make the sellers & Parents responsible, limit the sales to just days before the event, and licence large events, ensuring there are no mickey mouse fireworks around (which are the real killers, even in proffessional hands) innit.

Keep on bangin.
Cheers, Fritz.

P.s. Guy Fawkes was that ībloke from Italy wunnee ?

Graham Ricketts
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by matthewr
Er, Steven, fireworks can only be sold via approved retailers (you have to have a proper display cabinet, safe storage, etc. to get a licence and it will be revoked it you ), its already illegal to sell them to under-18s and and most very powerful and loud fireworks (>120db) cannot be sold to the public only to professional display organsisers.

Posted on: 07 November 2003 by andy c
I think if some people had a sense of responsability and actually thought about what they were doing....
Ok I'm off me soap box now...
I also have a cat who hates fireworks - so when the neighbours complain about her shitting in their garden guess what i say... Wink
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Paul Ranson
Our cats used to be upset by fireworks, but now it's a year round phenomena they seem inured. It takes a decent thunderstorm nowadays.

Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Steve B
It would be much better if they put compulsory silencers on all the bangers.

Why don't people have bonfires anymore? There used to be several on avery street years ago, now you hardly see any except at organized events.

Steve B
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by greeny
Probably because Mr Toy has been round complaining that the smoke drifting in his front door is affecting his Soundstage Wink.
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Berlin Fritz
I think you'll find that Treason along with starting a fire in HM Shipyards, are still to this day punishable by execution, I believe it, so why doesn't anybody else ?
Fritz Von Cromwell

Graham Ricketts
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Hammerhead
Originally posted by greeny:
Probably because Mr Toy has been round complaining that the smoke drifting in his front door is affecting his Soundstage Wink.

Oh, I dunno. Depends if he's playing the 1812 overture at the time. It might add to the realism.

Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Traveling Dan
When not traveling, I live in Northern Ireland: people there have a rather different attitude to unexpected loud bangs ...

Fireworks were banned in NI until the mid to late 90s. I vividly remember the first year they were allowed again. I was on the Seacat coming into Belfast Harbour at about 9.00 pm and it was like arriving in [insert preferred war zone]. Driving out of Belfast was wild: whizz, flash and bang about every 2-3 seconds.

After a few years of complete freedom the authorities decided, as of 2002, that the sale and use of fireworks needed to be controlled. So now there is a licence / permit system in place; you have to apply in advance and pay a fee. This has had some noticeable effects, apart from the obvious one of more money to the Northern Ireland Office. I have yet to hear of anyone being refused a permit, but I imagine some degree of control is being exercised. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on one's views about civil liberties versus the greater good.

Firstly, a 'user' permit is given for one day only. The practice in NI is to have fireworks on Halloween rather than 5th November, so my permit allowed me to set them off in my garden from 7.00 am until 11.00 pm on 31st October. The temptation to start at 7.01 am was there, but the bed was just too comfortable. As the minimum permit fee is Stg. 30 and that allows a gathering up to 100 people, the tendency is to (i) invite more people to the party (which could lead to a rowdier and more liquid affair that might otherwise be the case) and (ii) make sure you get your money's worth by having more fireworks in the short time available. In our case, most people contributed to the fireworks fund and we ended up with a massive quantity. It took over two hours of non-stop igniting and we still have some left over (which, of course, we can't use without applying for another permit). We had 18 children aged from 3 to 11 present so, as you can imagine, we made sure we had all the right kit and enforced a strict safety procedure. All went to plan: lots of fun and no injuries or scares.

Clubs, societies, etc. can also get permits for larger displays. These also apply for one day only and incur a much larger fee. The application process requires a site plan and details of safety arrangements - which is a good thing. In every case (private permits as well), the permit holder is expressly responsible for safety - which tends to concentrate the mind.

Secondly, I understand that a permit for the sale of fireworks attracts a fee of Stg. 800 - so a retailer needs to be confident of shifting enough product to cover that cost plus overheads, staff, etc., etc. - and bear in mind that the market is potentially much smaller since they can sell only to those who can produce a 'user' permit (i.e. - those willing to pay Stg. 30 or more for a few explosions and pretty colours). As a result, significantly fewer shops are selling fireworks now. Again, this may not be a bad thing in that it increases the level of control over dangerous items and makes it easier to police the sellers and users.

The other side of the coin is that with fewer official outlets and more bureaucracy, an alternative market has sprung up. One simply drives over the ill-defined border to the South and there are several 'establishments' in the no man's land area selling fireworks out of shipping containers ("off the back of a lorry" in at least one sense) and doing a roaring (pun intended) trade. From what I hear, many of these fireworks are of questionable origin and probably do not comply with relevant safety and other standards. Since a 'user' permit includes, of necessity, the right to transport fireworks, it is arguable that filling the car with dubious sparklers from Pyromania and driving home is perfectly legal. From memory, I don't recall anything in my permit about origin of fireworks or compliance with standards (but then my memory isn't what it was ...).

There's also the fact that these traders do not require a retailer's permit (giving an unfair competitive advantage) and will sell to anyone who rolls up without asking to see a 'user' permit. Thus, anyone can nip over the border and smuggle fireworks back in.

The thought of who knows how many cars coming back loaded with dubious recreational explosives is not a comforting one. It's probably only a matter of time before an accident occurs and we see the results of having fireworks and petrol in close proximity!

Notwithstanding the permit requirement, there seemed to be plenty of unauthorised fireworks around this year. There were many cases of a handful being let off in quick succession and then silence; presumably the miscreants either stopped or moved elsewhere before the police were called. At least some of the offenders were conscientious about clearing up the spent casings; otherwise known as "destroying the evidence".

I see a couple of clear inferences to be drawn from the NI permit experience. Firstly, there are pluses and minuses to the system. On the positive side: (i) reasonable control over the sale and use of potentially dangerous explosives is to be welcomed if sensibly implemented, (ii) in theory at least, the policing of such sale and use is improved, (iii) safety measures are emphasised and (iv) responsibility for safety is clearly communicated and allocated.

On the negative side, applying a permit fee and restricting use to one day tends to promote larger private gatherings with a much more concentrated and intensive use of fireworks. This in turn increases the risk of accident.

The real test will be whether or not these measures have reduced the number of injuries compared to the years when no permit system was in place. I have not yet seen the stats on this, but am keeping an eye out.

Secondly, the alternative market is a separate problem. Human nature being what it is, there will always be some such market and some amount of smuggling involving suspect / non-compliant / unsafe fireworks. The trick is controlling and minimising the degree to which it goes on. The NI example may be a special case, since there is an easily accessible land border, but I have no doubt that the same problem would arise in mainland Britain if a permit system were to apply there. The apparent failure in NI to address this problem undermines, I submit, the basic purpose of the permit system. If people see others flouting the permit system by buying/using unauthorised fireworks with impunity, then they will soon question why they should bother to act properly and pay the permit fees. In fairness, however, I have to say that I have no details of what steps were taken in NI to enforce the system, so I cannot say if it was a success or a failure - all I can say is that I have no personal knowledge of any actions that were taken.

The point is that any permit system will work only if it includes both effective planning and effective implementation to prevent / minimise such unauthorised import and use.

Aplogies for the length of this post - it's a slow day and I got a bit carried away!

Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Berlin Fritz
WEll said that Man, I sold all of mine years back little buggers they were.

Fritz Von Scrooge

Graham Ricketts
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by andy c
and pehaps you have the responsability to go tell your neighbours b4 setting fireworks off... the same as one of my neighbours, who also got treated to some powder for his garden that prevents cats shitting on it.
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by andy c
of course - she'll shit in their garden for you no problem - then you go round and give em the powder and you're, like, the new best neighbour from heaven. LOL
andy c!
Posted on: 07 November 2003 by Steve Toy
its already illegal to sell them to under-18s

I know Matthew, but the space available in the list of 5 options was insufficient to add the words, "as is currently the case."

AFAIK, it is not currently illegal for under 18s to use fireworks - only for them to buy them.

I deliberately made this the middling option.


Posted on: 08 November 2003 by HTK
I can't get free fireworks and I certainly don't have money to burn. If I WAS that rich I could think of several thousand other things to do with it.
Posted on: 08 November 2003 by garyi
I must admit I never used to have an opinion on fireworks until I moved to Watford.

The 'problem' for me is tha Ramadan caomes around the same time so from early october fireworks are going off every night in and around Watford.

this used to be a mild annoyence but now we have Roxanne the boxer up. Its Sheila's dog and used to live at her parents but we have her now.

She is utterly terrified and is useless now, it effect her fundementally and make her shake with fear. She won't go for walks and we have to force her to go to toilet. She has been so jittery that the other day as I walked in from work she fell all the way down the stairs and scared me badly.

Frankly I would prefer that fireworks were restricted to approved events and over a specific time period, seriosuly I am at my wits end with Roxanne and tongiht (Saturday the 8th) there has been more fire works than ever.

I know I sound like a fuddy duddy but its been going on every night for a month now here.
Posted on: 08 November 2003 by Paul Ranson
The Muslim population of Brackley is sadly very small. Yet we have fireworks all the time too. There's even a dedicated Chinese Firework shop in the High Street. Middle England Hooliganism.