Angry Tower Hamlets residents call for ban on public use of fireworks

Public use of fireworks enrages East London residents. Pic: AngMoKio

Christmas and New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with loud bangs and bright flashes, much to the dismay of many residents in East London.

Local people from Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Croydon and Lewisham have been complaining on Facebook since Bonfire Night about the noise of fireworks in their neighbourhood, and over 1500 of them have signed the petition to ban the public use of fireworks, which will be discussed in the Parliament in mid-January.

Ray Singh, 35, a customer service manager and resident of Tower Hamlets, has been following the Facebook comments in the group “Canary Wharf & Isle of Dogs residents”.

He agreed with many of the comments and said: “It was 3am when the fireworks went off the day before. I haven’t had a peaceful night sleep for weeks. It’s not respectful and unacceptable to anyone to be setting of fireworks at midnight, but we can’t identify the person or exact location so we can do nothing.”

Andre Aguilar, 38, lives in Tower Hamlets and colleague of Ray Singh, also said: “I’m fed up with those fireworks which have woken me up at some very late nights uncountable times. It feels like some people just do things to purposely annoy others. Fireworks are dangerous. A street fight with fireworks has left one person injured last month. It should be regulated.”

Hasanie who did not want to give his full name, is the owner of Gates DIY Stores, the biggest fireworks shop in East London.

He gave words of warning to those using fireworks: “Follow the instructions. If you are not confident enough to use the fireworks, give them to somebody who is.

“Stick to big and reputable retailers, look at the brands you buy, don’t go for cheap ones, and make sure the fireworks you buy have the CE mark.”

Hasanie also told East London Lines that accidents can easily happen when people buy cheap fireworks from the black market:

“Those shops don’t have a license as getting a license is expensive. They import unsafe fireworks from India or China which don’t pass the UK safety regulations.”

According to Hasanie, the Tower Hamlets Council has been doing more work to regulate the sales of illegal fireworks.

The number of shops selling illegal fireworks has dropped from 37 to 12, while the sales of fireworks have increased 30% in the week around bonfire night and Halloween.

Nearly 110,000 people across the UK, 1500 of them from Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham and Croydon have signed a petition calling for a ban on the public use of fireworks. The petition has reached the target of 100,000 signatures after the bonfire night last month and is now waiting for a debate date at Parliament on 22 Jan.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Fireworks can be a source of great entertainment. But as the festive season approaches, it is particularly important that the rules around their sale and responsible use are followed.

“Residents can play their part by only purchasing fireworks from reputable retailers and by looking out for a CE mark. It is now illegal for fireworks without such a symbol to be sold. Last month, council officers worked closely with the emergency services to make sure that fireworks weekend was safely enjoyed across the borough and we continue to make tackling anti-social a priority.

“Where residents have concerns about fireworks being set off in an anti-social manner, we would encourage them to call the police on the non-emergency number, 101, in the first instance or to contact their housing provider.”

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