This week's MP's column comes from Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West


MOST of us all love a great fireworks display. 

On special occasions like Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve or in times of happiness such as weddings, lighting the sky with a myriad of different colours, whilst we gather with our loved ones to watch the magnificent spectacle makes for a truly special occasion. 

However, sadly, over recent months, I have received several representations made to me by constituents concerned about fireworks being let off in the late hours of the evening. 

The law says you must not set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or other public places. 

You must also not set off fireworks between 11 pm and 7am, except for, Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight; or New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am. There are, however, slight differences depending on local councils. 

Whilst the law is incredibly lenient with the timings allowing the use of fireworks, it is increasingly disappointing to hear of elderly people living in Bradford being awoken after midnight to the frightening noise of loud firework explosions. 

The representations that have been made to me sadly suggest these are not just one-off scenarios but with the summer wedding season in full flow, they are increasingly much more of a trend. 

Fireworks in general can also have a negative impact on vulnerable people. 
According to the National Autistic Society, many autistic adults and children find occasions like Bonfire Night challenging, due to it being too noisy, unpredictable and unsettling. 

As many pet owners would testify, loud bangs from fireworks cause a great deal of distress to pets, especially dogs and cats. 

The animal charity PDSA point out that around 40 per cent of owners of cats and dogs report that their pet is afraid of fireworks. 

The stresses for dogs include, trembling and shaking, clinging to owners and hiding behind furniture. 

Whilst fireworks can be enjoyable in moderation, it is unacceptable for people to be letting off fireworks past the legally set times. 

I will be continuing conversations with the Police and Council about the anti-social element to fireworks and will work to ensure that more is done to clamp down on illegal activity wherever it occurs. 

I am clear that where people break the law and create disturbance and difficulty for their neighbours they should face the consequences provided within the law. 

It cannot be something allowed to happen on a weekly basis and for people to suffer alone without any action or repercussions for the perpetrators.  

But my message today is also to reach out to community champions across Bradford to help raise awareness on this issue. 

We, as communities across Bradford, showed the very best of our city throughout the height of the Covid pandemic. 

I saw first-hand how young people volunteered in droves to deliver food to those shielding, helped to provide PPE to the NHS and were ready to step up in any way possible to help those vulnerable across our city.

Therefore, before deciding to let off fireworks in the late hours of the night, people should remember that they could be affecting the very vulnerable people they were helping whilst they were shielding, they could be disturbing the sleep of those NHS staff and key workers who they clapped for being heroes during the pandemic and dragging down the very community cohesion that so many people helped build through their compassion, care and consideration. 

I hope and believe that we can continue this spirit of community care and consideration for all of our neighbours across our city.  

I am hoping that this message is heard by community champions, so that we can tackle anti-social behaviour with better education and understanding on how such actions impact peoples lives. 

In the hard times, we learn the importance of community spirit and cooperation, and in the good times we should also continue to consider all the people around us.