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Events in Preston to be encouraged to use less noisy fireworks due to impact on pets and people

Posted on - 28th December, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Brookfield, Preston Council, Preston News
Fireworks over Sessions House Pic: Michael Porter Photography
Fireworks over Sessions House Pic: Michael Porter Photography

Residents and event organisers in Preston are being encouraged to use less noisy fireworks, because of the impact the biggest pyrotechnics can have on pets and people who are sensitive to loud bangs.

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Preston City Council has pledged to use so-called “quiet fireworks” at its own public displays whenever it can.

The Labour-run authority made the move after a call from Brookfield ward councillor Mel Close who told a recent full council meeting that the ever-expanding fireworks season was a “living nightmare” for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and also led to pet-owners and those with support dogs having to decamp from their homes in order to keep them free from fear.

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She said that firework noise around bonfire night and that generated by a display at the city’s Lancashire Encounter festival, held in September, had resulted in several dogs and cats in Preston bolting – with some never returning home.

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“I think we also need to remember, it’s not just about pets, it’s also about farm animals and service animals.  In particular, guide dogs, hearing dogs [and] assistance dogs [which] enable people to live full and active, independent lives – but not if they are spooked by fireworks.

“[Then] they cannot work again and they are retired – and that’s absolutely heartbreaking when it takes two years…to train a guide dog.

“Sometimes [pets’ fear] can be treated…but that costs money.   We know that our residents just don’t have the money to medicate their pets [and nor are they] willing to go to the doctors themselves where people have got PTSD,” Cllr Close added.

Her notice of motion on the subject, which was approved by a majority, also called on the council to consider requesting that all public firework displays in Preston be advertised in advance, so that residents badly affected by them can take precautions.

She said she knew of one guide dog owner who had to take their animal into the countryside when they knew fireworks were likely to be going off, while another family had to keep their child with noise sensitivity away from loud displays.

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Preston Rural North ward member Stephen Thompson, a Conservative, said that while he agreed with the sentiment of the motion, he could not support it because it did not go “far enough”.  He suggested limiting the use of fireworks to “a couple of days either side of 5th November…[and] New Year’s Eve and religious [festivals]”.

Quiet fireworks generate bangs of 90 decibels or less, whereas others can range between 120 and 175 decibels, the latter being akin to standing next to a loudspeaker at a rock concert, councillors were told.

Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Darby, who represents Ingol and Cottam, welcomed Cllr Close “building upon” a similar motion that he had brought three years ago, but which was ultimately defeated in the town hall chamber.

The city council will also now write to the Local Government Association to seek support from other local authorities to lobby the government to introduce legislation to limit fireworks to 90 decibels.

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