Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Campaigner reignites her call for more quiet fireworks

Campaigner reignites her call for more quiet fireworks

A WOMAN has again appealed for people to use quiet fireworks for this year’s Bonfire Night celebrations.

Jane Foddy, of Loddon Drive, Wargrave, spearheaded the Henley Standard’s Ban the Bangs campaign last year and appeared on national television.

She wants stricter measures to control the use of fireworks and for the public to be more considerate towards domestic animals and wildlife and people with mental health problems.

Mrs Foddy, a PR consultant, said: “We live in such a beautiful environment and people come here for the rural tranquillity, so it is such a shame that people feel the need to spoil it by wanting to explode gunpowder in the sky to find enjoyment.

“Where I live in Wargrave, it feels like it goes on for about three weeks rather than just one night.”

She appeared on ITV’s This Morning programme last year to discuss the issue with presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.

Mrs Foddy said: “They did an opinion poll and 55 per cent of people said they would be in favour of banning noisy fireworks, so I think there is interest in the cause. The use of fireworks seems to be building and therefore the annoyance of them seems to be growing too. It may reach a stage where legislation is the only option.”

Mrs Foddy, who moved to Wargrave with husband Chris in 2011, started to notice the problem when their Irish soft-coated wheaten terrier Teddy was frightened by the sound of fireworks.

She said: “I had always been aware of fireworks and knew that the noise can be very distressing for animals.

“Most people don’t know just how badly these animals can react. They get terrified and run away, which can be very dangerous. Others have increased heart rates and can have heart attacks, or suffer from fits.

“It is not just domestic animals. There is a lot of wildlife in Henley and the surrounding area and they must be scared as well.

“But there are also children with autism, the elderly and people with post-traumatic stress disorders, who can’t distinguish fireworks from the sound of gunfire.”

It is legal to use fireworks all-year round but they must be set off prior to 11pm. The only exceptions to this are Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

There is a noise limit of 120 decibels on all consumer fireworks. Fireworks can only be sold to people aged 18 or over but Mrs Foddy feels age restrictions do not go far enough towards preventing children from getting hold of them.

She said: “Restricting when you can buy them is silly and does not solve the problem. Children are not allowed to buy cigarettes, but they still get their hands on them.

“It is a very strange concept when you think about it — allowing the general public to buy explosives. In what other situation would you call this acceptable?

“Quiet fireworks are not more expensive and they are readily available. I have seen the displays myself and they are no less beautiful.

“I would hope once people realise the damage it does, they would be respectful, but it can be hard trying to get people to change their habits.

“Some of the big fireworks at public events are like a jet engine taking off.”

The current legislation surrounding fireworks was debated in Parliament last year and defended by Maidenhead MP and former prime minister Theresa May, who felt most people used them in a respectful manner.

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