Reply to the 2017/18 petition and our response

 

This is the Government reply when our petition reached 10,000 signatures

Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

 

(our response in italics.)

 

Government acknowledges that many people have genuine concerns about the use and, the misuse, of fireworks and the risks of firework-related injury. However, the number of injuries is low, and the total number of hospital admissions caused by firework injuries has remained below 200 a year for the last 10 years.

 

This is misinformation, and only half the story, the number of injuries and A&E attendances has been rising year on year.  Many injuries and most mental health issues caused by fireworks are treated either within the home or by GP’s and so are not captured in statistics. In addition, many A&E attendances for treatment do not result in admission. When A&E attendances due to Firework related injuries are considered, there has been over 100% increase to date since 2010. Recent surveys have shown that 1/3 of parents and grandparents have reported witnessing injuries to children.  With regards to pets and livestock, many reported cases of distressed animals result in the death of or acute injury to valued family members, and often valuable livestock is lost within the farming community. Random fireworks affect people with mental health issues.1 in 4 people suffer with Mental health, Government have previously pledged that Mental Health will receive equal treatment to other health issues.  This has not been the case and it is falling further behind – Those with Mental Health issues become forgotten

The Government does not plan to make any changes to the way statistics relating to enforcement actions are collected. The Government believes the focus of enforcement should be on delivering necessary protections and on working with businesses, citizens and others to ensure safety.

 

There are NO statistics collected from any emergency services which would give the government an overall picture of the present situation regarding firework use and misuse.  Currently there are no statistics gathered or available from any of the emergency services, therefore it is not possible for the Government to reasonably assess both the current situation regarding Firework use or to assess the impact of the preferred approach currently applied.  However, given the year on year increases to firework related A&E attendances and attacks on emergency services, the ongoing public support for online Petitions regarding the use of Fireworks and the Fire Chiefs Statement 2018, it is reasonable to suggest that the current approach is not effective, and should be reviewed.

 

The Government believes that the current regulations strike the right balance between the enjoyment of fireworks by the public and restricting the sale and use of fireworks for public safety reasons.

 

365 days a year, all day, every day, is NOT a balance. In the name of a good time and enjoyment of fireworks for some, how much of a thoroughly bad time are you prepared to be inflicted on others? Public mental health has not been considered in any way. Given the current restrictions permit the use of fireworks 365 days a year, consideration must be given to the number of people who are adversely affected with mental health issues and pet owners. 1 in 6 people are believed to suffer from mental health issues in the UK, many of which will be severely affected by the year-round use of fireworks, and their families and friends are also witness to the distress caused. This adds to further unnecessary burden to our mental health/social care as a single incident can create the need for days or even weeks of addition support required. 44% of households currently own household pets, many of which suffer from anxiety and distress due to Firework explosions in close proximity.  Many of family homes, and it is very distressing for all members of the families to see loved pets suffering due to even a single firework. It is our belief that the right balance has yet to be reached, and that further information must be sought to ensure that vulnerable groups in society and animals/wildlife are adequately protected – the current legislation does not protect these groups in any way, given fireworks are permitted on any day of the year. There is no desire to fully ban the use of fireworks, however restrictions to allow fireworks only to the stated traditional, and multicultural times of year would provide a more reasonable balance between those who enjoy fireworks, and those that are negatively affected by them.

 

The best way to continue to reduce the distress caused by fireworks is to work with industry, retailers and others to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks through guidance and public education and to ensure that appropriate action is taken against those that break the rules.

 

Education is not working. There is more anti-social use and more damage to people, animals and property than ever before. Again, there are no statistics to support the statement that appropriate action is taken against those that break the rules. The police do not/can’t act due to the staff shortages.  Due to lack of supporting statistics and little information regarding action taken against those that break the regulations, it is impossible to ascertain whether appropriate action is taken in all cases. Many members of the public have reported incidents to local police authorities, who are unable to provide resource to investigate apart from very serious life-threatening cases. Many forces do not record reported incidents and do not provide incident numbers. The current legislation is difficult for the police to apply in many cases, as it is almost impossible to ascertain the location of people launching fireworks outside of the Regulations, particularly when only small numbers are launched. As such, most forces are unable to assign limited resources when incidents are reported. As the current Regulations permit firework use at any time of the year, this is an ongoing concern for many members of the community.

 

The obligations for the Secretary of State referred to in the e-petition, to publish a Regulatory Impact Assessment and to consult interested organisations, only apply when making new regulations and we have no plans to change the legislation relating to fireworks.

 

Current legislation does not protect our modern 21st century multicultural Society and it is therefore not fit for purpose and should be reviewed. It does not protect any of the vulnerable people in our society, who are also affected, it is flawed in that it unfortunately allows others to have firework fun at the expense of the vulnerable.  In the absence of any specific statistical evidence the Government is being misguided if it believes the current legislation is effective, the suitability of any Legislation should be borne out by data and evidence, and should consider all aspects of Society, particularly those more vulnerable.

 

 

As set out above, given there is already legislation in place which controls the sale and use and misuse of fireworks; we have no plans to extend this further.

 

Legislation that is in place does not control the use and misuse of fireworks. Anti-social use is on the increase. Our emergency services come under attack on a regular basis. It is disappointing that there is an unwillingness to open this area of legislation for review given the year on year increase in anti-social use, attacks on our emergency services and injuries caused.  It has had public support, online Government petitions have gained over 100,000 signatures, each year, for the last 3 years, and there is increasing awareness of mental health issues within Society. 

 Even more concerning is that this decision was taken at 10,000 signatures, with disregard to the number of people yet to sign the petition or the parliamentary debate now taking place.  As a democratic country, we believe that this decision should be subject to discussion and debate, followed by an enquiry to establish how many people are affected by random fireworks throughout the year.

 

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MP Letter Campaign

THE MP LETTER CAMPAIGN

Send your MP’s response to Diane

(preferably: email/text, jpg/png, pdf)

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Your MP

The only people in Britain who can change the law are MPs. They are, therefore, our most important audience. FAB has been at the forefront of the UK campaign to make a restriction on firework use by the general public a political issue. The way to support us is by writing to your MP. Every letter and email counts.

Progress comes from engaging with the system and advancing what is an overwhelmingly powerful argument with patience and determination.

Writing To Your MP

Many MPs gauge public opinion by the number of letters and emails they receive on a particular subject, so writing to them is important.

You can either e-mail your MP or write by regular mail. Some people think a letter is more likely to get a response, but there’s probably no truth in that. However, most MPs will reply by post.

You can write to your MP as often as you like, but if you regularly bombard him or her with irate e-mails, the chances are you will be ignored.

How Do I Contact My MP?

To find out who your MP is and to email  go to  writetothem.com  and enter your postcode into the box. The click on MP..

For snail mail, which is better, the postal address is:

(Name of MP, e.g. George Osborne MP)

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

If you wish to obtain any other specific details about your MP, then you can contact their local surgeries or their secretaries by calling the House of Commons Switchboard on 0207 219 3000 and asking to be put through to their office.

Whether you write by post or e-mail, always include at the head of your letter or e-mail:

Your full name and address, including post code (very important).

If you don’t include your full address, your letter will be ignored, as MPs are only obliged to respond to their own constituents.

What To Include In The Letter

Keep it short. The basic letter should be no more than one side of A4, although you can include additional information such as photocopies or scans of documents etc.

A carefully considered letter is far more effective, and will attract greater support, than an intense, ill-thought out tirade. Don’t make more than one, or perhaps at most two key points and keep your argument factual, if possible backing it up it with references to research documents, newspaper reports etc.

It’s always good advice to plan your letter or email carefully, to leave it for a few hours and then to read it again before posting. That way you can be sure of making the points you intended to make. Ensure you include your full name and address.

It is always important that you ask your MP something concrete; for example ask them whether they would support moves to reform current firework laws, or you could just ask them to clarify their position and give reasons for it.

If the issue you are raising is of particular relevance to you, then ensure you highlight your personal interest because your MP is more likely to pay greater attention it.

If you have a question for a minister, the convention is that you write to your MP and ask him or her to pass your letter or e-mail onto the minister on your behalf. You don’t need to know the minister’s name, just their correct title.

The golden rules when writing to your MP is to include contact details, be formal but polite, keep it short, make one or at most two points and ask a direct question to discover his or her attitude to the issue at hand.

Your MP splits their time between their constituency office, and their parliamentary office where they are required to attend debates and meetings in the House of Commons.

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westminster-hallWestminster Hall

The FAB Guide To Lobbying MPs

Lobbying is the process of attempting to influence the decisions made by officials in the government. As a member of the public, the best mechanism you have to do this is through the use of your local MP. If you don’t attempt to inform and influence the decision making process then your concerns won’t be heard or considered. Don’t leave it to someone else to speak up for you, they might not exist!

Whether or not you voted for your local MP, or even agree with their political views, you can lobby them to gain their help with your campaign. They are able to submit parliamentary questions, write a letter to the relevant minister, or even arrange a meeting with the minister responsible for the issue of concern to you. Lobbying also enables you to force an MP to show where their allegiance lies on a particular subject.

Other than writing to them, you can lobby your MP in a number of ways: You can set up a meeting with them or use your local media by getting them to raise the issue or highlight a campaign, challenging your MP for a response.

Politicians are particularly keen to be seen engaging with young people, so if you are first-time voter, make that clear from the outset.

You can request a meeting with your MP at anytime. The easiest way, however, is to request an appointment during their ‘surgery’ hours. All MPs hold local surgeries – the dates, times and locations are advertised in advance, you can obtain this information from their own website or by contacting their offices directly.

Needless to say if you do get a meeting with your MP, make an effort to be clean and presentable.  Be polite and have your case prepared in advance so you can make your argument clearly and concisely. Take copies of any supporting documents with you to give to him or her.

NB…. All constituency members are entitled to a free tour of the Houses of Parliament by their MP, by arrangement obviously! This is a good opportunity to raise any issues you might have. If you do, ensure that you have a side of A4 with all points clearly highlighted. In addition to this you can attend any debates in the house, and every week each MP has two tickets to PMQs, if you contact their office they can book you in for free.

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, addresses the House of Commons during her first Prime Minister's Questions in LondonPrime Ministers Questions.. (PMQs)

Another tool that we have at our disposal is a MPs ability to table or sign Early Day Motions. EDMs are good for publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to a specific campaign or event; they can also be used to determine parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view. Write to your MP and say ‘I wish for you to table an Early Day Motion on the following subject ……. for the following reasons……..” be sure to use a convincing argument! You can also ask them to sign and show support for an existing EDM that has already been tabled.

When you have sent your letter or contacted your MP please let us know, we keep a list of those MPs contacted. When you receive your reply, good bad or ugly.. Please  remember to send all MP replies to Diane.

 Thank you and good luck with your lobbying..