Parliament: Home affairs - Restrictions urged on sale of fireworks

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The Independent Online
TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS on the sale of fireworks were demanded yesterday to stop youngsters terrorising their local neighbourhoods.

Barbara Roche, a Home Office minister, assured MPs that she would work with the Department of Trade and Industry to consider concerns that existing firework restrictions were not being enforced. She also agreed to look at the possibility of restricting the sale of fireworks to a shorter period before 5 November each year.

Her comments came after Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford, highlighted a series of incidents in her constituency in the run-up to Friday's celebrations. She said: "I am not satisfied that the regulations relating to fireworks are being enforced. In my constituency in the last few weeks there have been some horrific incidents where youngsters aged 9, 10 and 11 have been putting explosives almost into the exhausts of cars, blowing them up ... The latest trick is to put an explosive inside a traffic cone and then to put the cone inside a telephone box - and when it explodes the whole telephone box explodes."

Ms Blears added: "This is not youngsters having fun. This is people terrorising the local neighbourhood and I would ask the Government very seriously to think about the enforcement of these regulations."

Mrs Roche said the number of people treated in hospital for firework injuries fell to 831 last year from 908 in 1997 and 1,233 in 1996. But Bill O'Brien, the MP for Normanton, said there were still too many injuries and asked for stricter safety rules.

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