Elliot Colburn Excerpts
Monday 2nd November 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Mundell. I am a member of the Petitions Committee, and this is an excellent opportunity for us to share the petitioners’ concerns in Parliament. I thank the hon. Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) for her opening remarks.

I also thank the 338 Carshalton and Wallington residents who signed the petition, the many more who sent me emails about it, and those who took part in my snap Facebook poll overnight on this issue, which was prompted, funnily enough, by my arriving home quite late to hear fireworks being set off. I will say a bit more about that later. Just before rising to speak, I checked the online poll, in which I asked my constituents what they think about the petition, and no fewer than 680 said that they would like a total ban on the sale of fireworks or at least some restriction, whereas 210 said that they do not think change is necessary, and they would not be happy to see any restrictions on the sale of fireworks, so there was quite a healthy majority for the first option.

I totally agree with the hon. Lady’s opening remarks. When I was growing up, there was many a wonderful firework display on Guy Fawkes night in my Carshalton and Wallington constituency. For example, local scout groups put on displays—I was a member of the 6th Carshalton scout group—and the Round Table Carshalton fireworks night takes place every year.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn
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The Minister is nodding; he used to live next to the park where that display takes place, so he knows it very well. The Round Table does a fantastic job and puts on a great event.

However, I have heard from many constituents tales of what can happen when fireworks go off. I have also heard the concerns of various organisations, particularly animal charities. Animals are one of the primary reasons why people have concerns about the general sale of fireworks. Speaking from personal experience, my older golden retriever, Willow, is quite frightened of fireworks and cannot settle down when she hears them going off. It is upsetting to see her in that state.

There have also been concerns about antisocial behaviour. I mentioned that I heard fireworks going off last night, and this morning it came to my attention that it is rumoured—I have not had confirmation from the police yet—that a group of young people were letting off fireworks in the pedestrianised Wallington Square, which caused significant damage, as well as distress to the residents living near the high street. That behaviour is not only a nuisance but highly dangerous, as the hon. Member for Gower highlighted clearly.

A number of solutions to this ongoing issue have been suggested, both in the petition and by residents who have contacted me, and I want to touch on a few of them. The first, and perhaps the most extreme, is a total ban on the sale of fireworks in the United Kingdom, which would essentially bring an end to firework displays in the UK. I think that is a bit too heavy handed, and I am sure we can find a more balanced approach. There is a range of other suggestions, especially to do with licencing, including the idea that we sell fireworks only to those holding formal events, that we regulate noise, and that we limit the dates on which fireworks can be set off. The Government will have considered those suggestions in their call for evidence in 2018, and the petition calls for some of those measures to be taken.

Colleagues will want to explore those options in more detail, so to allow them to speak, I will draw my remarks to a close. The Government are considering evidence that they started to collect in 2018, and are looking at the Scottish Government’s consultation and the Petitions Committee’s inquiry. I look forward to seeing what they have to say in response to those two pieces of work. Ultimately, I hope that they can find a balanced approach that allows us to continue to enjoy these events, particularly on Guy Fawkes night, and ensures that we address the concerns that our constituents have raised.