Twas a cold Christmas Day night in 2021. They walked home after a peaceful day of eating and merriment with loved ones after a hard global pandemic which had cancelled the Christmas before. As they walked past the softly lit windows they saw people resting at the end of their busy day after the babies and smaller children had been put to bed. Now was their time to relax. The people walking said to themselves “Ah ’tis the season of peace and goodwill.” Then BANG. Out of nowhere, across all the houses, horrendous noise and flashes of light assaulted them. The dog nearly pulled them over. Children and babies were shaken from their sleep. Dogs started to bark from fear. War veterans who were enjoying the calm were reminded of their trauma. People with sensitive hearing clutched their ears to deaden the sound. More went off later and woke them from their sleep. Then it all happened over again on Boxing Day and 5 days in a row afterwards. It breached their peace and their right to peace; their right to walk with the dog after dark; their right to sleep without disturbance. It ruined their tranquil day and they began to dread the season next year. But alas, the Government which calls itself a democracy, resolutely refused to listen to the will of the people who peacefully signed 6 petitions that went over 100,000 signatures and one that reached nearly a million. Refused to listen to the sensible debate of MPs in parliament on the topic 6 times. It preferred instead to allow people to breach the peace by letting off loud fireworks that impact thousands in the miles around them instead of allowing these people their peace. They exercised their democratic right to ask for their peace and their right to peace. Just as have so many before them and laws have been made that accommodated them.
Summary for those who don’t read all (but please do as it’s good!): The tradition for fireworks is NOT Christmas. It is NOT actually New Year. It was the 5th November. One day. There are laws to protect others from ‘Breaching the Peace’, such as a neighbour playing loud music that disturbs others and yet fireworks are not included in those or limited in any way. Enough is enough. Take action with the list below to make a difference.
When you raise the topic of fireworks to some councillors and MPs many will answer “It’s our tradition and we don’t want to change it.” It is a tradition on 5th November. Full stop. Finnito. End of. Guy Fawkes. Because of the bang of the gunpowder. It is not a tradition any other night of the year in the UK – Christmas Day, Boxing Day, American Independence Day or every other public holiday around the world. It’s one night – the 5th November. New Year fireworks only started at the millennium but now none of us can go to bed before 1am if we don’t want to celebrate new year or have had a hard year and are not in the mood.
It is a breach of the peace and fireworks are a nuisance and it goes against our rights to do things as we would want to – every day of the year. Why are a few people allowed to do things that impact hundreds of people for miles around them, when laws protect people breaching the peace in much closer surroundings – such as next door? Why can you have the police round for breaching the peace if you play loud music or even if your dog barks and either scenario disturbs a few neighbours – and yet you can let off fireworks that are 120 decibels or more and that breach neighbours’ peace for miles around and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it? One does have to ask oneself where the logic is in this. And I hate to say it but why is the Government absolutely refusing to move on it? It really does beg the question of what they gain from fireworks.
Another argument one hears from the party of the Government, as they copy and paste their response to you, is that they don’t want to restrict people’s liberties. Our liberties are constantly restricted for the benefit of a few. Smoking in pubs to protect people working in bars; fox hunting laws to protect a few foxes – when many, many more animals are impacted by fireworks. Dog owners have to pick up after them to protect other people from their mess. We need laws in place to protect the rights of others. Currently one person’s right to let off a firework in their garden, any day of the year, infringes on the rights of those that don’t want to hear them on any day. Who want to do ordinary things such as sit at home without bangs going off, walk in the dark or sleep undisturbed. Who even would like to go out on new year’s eve, but can’t because their pets will be terrified by the fireworks. The rights of minorities as well as majorities always have to be considered. Nearly a million people signed one of the latest petitions to restrict firework usage. In a population of around 62 million, that is not even a minority, but even if it were, laws have been passed to protect far smaller groups impacted by others’ behaviour.
So why is this government not listening? Are you fed up of your right to peace not being protected? If so, the only way to change things is to take action, demand a change in the law and help educate others on the impact of fireworks on others. Legal changes could restrict the number of days a year that fireworks are allowed to go off; stop the sale to the public and limit to public displays only; reduce the decibels of those let off on the few days they should be allowed. There needs to be some limit rather than being able to go off 365 days a year until 11pm or 1am on some days. It’s simply against our right to peace. And is highly stressful in different ways for different people and animals.
Don’t give up. The suffragettes fought for years/decades for change. Keep signing and sharing petitions, write to your MP, write to your local council, share blogs like these so that more people know others share their views. Writing now is important as a private member’s bill is being brought forward on the topic in January. It may not go far enough, but MPs knowing what changes you want, will help them know how to act in relation to it.
- Sign and share the petition to get it over 1 million signatures
- Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
- There have been 5 debates, 6 petitions with over 100,000 signatures each, a Petitions Committee inquiry and the Government needs to listen. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the Government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
- Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. You can use the RSPCA template
- Ask your friends and neighbours not to let fireworks off or if they insist to at least use low noise fireworks which are available from most firework suppliers
- Read more blogs on the impact of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs, why fireworks are a nuisance and the law should change.
We can all make a difference. Each person sharing and spreading the word, writing to their MP, every signature. Every one counts. And don’t give up.
To anyone who is adversely affected by fireworks, for whatever reason, don’t feel you are alone. A minimum of nearly a million people in the UK are in agreement with you (and that’s only the people who received the petition to sign). And many, many more. You are not being a killjoy to want your right to peace and rest in a world that is busy and often harsh.