IT is still three weeks until Guy Fawkes Night but already councillors across the city are receiving complaints about fireworks being set off in the streets. Whether through emails from constituents or social media posting, it is patently clear many people are genuinely frightened. I saw one posting of a dog so traumatised by fireworks it appeared to be in a catatonic fit.

Today is the first day when fireworks are meant to be on sale more widely in the run-up to November 5. For most of the rest of the year, fireworks should only be available through strictly licensed outlets. But yet, they seem already to be easily available.

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In Scotland, fireworks are one of those areas where responsibility is split between the Westminster and Holyrood governments. At its simplest, the sale and storage of fireworks is UK-wide legislation but how, when and where you can set off fireworks is controlled by Scottish legislation.

The Scottish Parliament last legislated on fireworks back in 2004. Since then, it is fair to say, public opinion has moved substantially towards even greater restrictions on the use and sale of fireworks. Last October, community safety minister Ash Denham published the results of a consultation which showed that 87% of respondents supported an outright ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public. An even greater proportion supported tighter controls on the use of fireworks.

Public opinion polling also shows clear majority support for further restrictions, though by somewhat lower margins.

The Firework Review Group, established in response to the consultation, is due to complete its work by the end of this month. It has been given a fairly wide remit to examine options and come up with recommendations. The public mood is, I think, now fairly clear. Fireworks should be restricted to organised and licensed events. The sale of fireworks – except the likes of sparklers and party poppers – to the general public should be banned.

Fireworks do still have their place. They can be exciting and magnificent, they are also firmly part of longstanding traditions not just restricted to Guy Fawkes Night. New Year, Diwali and Chinese New Year are already recognised in existing legislation. The huge display in Edinburgh is one of the highlights of the annual festival.

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Glasgow City Council has for years organised a hugely popular public display on Glasgow Green. Sadly, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s event will not be going ahead. Many now fear that unregulated and unsupervised bonfires and fireworks may proliferate across the city. The threat to safety of all those involved or affected is clearly paramount. The harm caused to pets and other animals, the possible damage to property and the strain on our vital emergency services are all of concern.

I sincerely hope that by this time next year we have not only beaten Covid but have safer rules in place which mean we can all enjoy traditional and religious celebrations but do so safely and with peace of mind. In the meantime, I hope we can all get the message out to behave responsibly and with consideration for others. The Police and Fire Service also deserve our unqualified support in protecting our community.

As we approach both Guy Fawkes and Diwali, have fun but think of others and play safe.