The Firework Campaign’s change.org petition, launched three years ago by Julie Doorne, calls for an urgent review of firework regulations to “further restrict their use, as a step to preventing needless animal suffering”. The petition hit a million signatures shortly before midnight on Tuesday (1 February), the day of Chinese New Year when fireworks may be set off until 1am under UK law.
On the same day, the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament. The bill, if approved, will make it an offence to buy fireworks without a licence and make it an offence to let off fireworks in “firework control zones”, designated by local authorities. A bill taken to Scottish Parliament will be debated, voted on and may be amended. Parliament then decides if it should be passed.
Julie told H&H reaching a million signatures on the petition felt like a “milestone”.
“We were watching the signatures go up and up as it got closer to midnight,” she said.
“Not many petitions reach a million unless they’ve been talked about on the news so we are really pleased. Some people might say it took us ages to get to this point, but it doesn’t matter how long it took, we got there – and people are still signing it.”
Julie will present the petition to 10 Downing Street in the coming weeks, and following this will request a meeting with Paul Scully, Parliamentary under-secretary for the department for business, energy and industrial strategy, to discuss firework issues.
“I can take six people to Number 10 so I will be reaching out to MPs and the petitions committee, who have always been very supportive, and I hope to take an RSPCA representative. I am going to include a data stick with all the comments from people who have signed the petition and shared their story,” she said.
“I’d really like to see something big happen now, like a national review or for the Government to admit that there is a problem and the current law is not working.”
The petition will remain open for signatures and Julie has emphasised the importance of continuing to report firework concerns to the British Horse Society (BHS), RSPCA and the police. The petition can be signed here.
“We recently ran a survey and of 320 responses, 83.8% said they hadn’t reported firework issues involving their pets to anyone,” said Julie.
“An animal doesn’t have to be injured by a firework to report it, it’s just as important reporting if they are distressed. The RSPCA and BHS are actively asking for this information and we absolutely need people to be reporting it.”
An RSPCA spokesman said the “incredible response” to Julie’s petition goes to show “the strength of public feeling” about what are often unlicensed and random firework displays that give animal owners no time to prepare.
“We hope this opens up public debate and leads to restrictions in the private use of fireworks, saving hundreds of animals from distress each year,” he said.
“The RSPCA has long called for regulatory changes in the way we use fireworks through our Bang Out of Order campaign. Last year we set up an online reporting tool for people to use whose animals had been affected by fireworks and we reached more than 11,000 reports. Sadly many reports to us involve terrified dogs, cats and horses – with some ending up seriously injured or dying in incidents involving fireworks.”
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