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Rushcliffe Borough Council considering ban on council-run fireworks display

Councillors in Rushcliffe are set to consider doing away with council-run fireworks displays, over concerns for pet owners and those with post-traumatic stress disorders, among other health conditions.

An outright ban on council-organised displays is one of three options to be discussed by Conservative-controlled Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Alternatives include using quiet fireworks or laser displays instead.

It comes after Broxtowe Borough Council opted to support quiet fireworks by encouraging local shops to sell them instead, and asking event organisers to let people know in advance.

In a report set to be considered in Rushcliffe, the council states: “There is a growing body of evidence regarding the health impacts of firework noise, both upon people and animals.

“By increasing the council’s controls on the use of fireworks at Rushcliffe Borough Council events, the council would be demonstrating community leadership and promoting the delivery of more inclusive and considerate events.

“The recommendation to restrict the council’s use of fireworks would replicate a similar policy decision made by a neighbouring district council.”

However, the report goes on to say that the council has been using fireworks for more than 15 years, and hasn’t received a single formal noise complaint about its displays.

Between 2008 and 2019 the council received 12 complaints about private fireworks displays.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

It can cause flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia, and according to the NHS affects around one in three people who have suffered a traumatic event.

The report says: “For many people fireworks are considered a fun and enjoyable way of marking significant occasions.

“However, it is recognised that the sounds of fireworks can be a concern for some people with certain health conditions, in particular:

“Children and adults with sensory processing disorders or who are on the autistic spectrum can have hyper sensitivities to sound, light, touch, taste, smell and pain which stimulate anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed or confused. These feelings are also common for people with conditions that affect the brain or nervous system such as dementia.

“People with hearing conditions such as hyperacusis which can cause a difficulty in tolerance and volume of sounds that would not be considered loud by individuals with normal hearing.

“People with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have difficulties with loud sounds such as an exaggerated startle response, fear of sound (phonophobia) or aversion to specific sounds (misophonia), which may trigger flashbacks or panic attacks.

“People with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and lung disease may also experience adverse impacts of the air pollutants and particulate matter expelled by fireworks, though air quality degradation is short-term.”

The council has also looked at substituting fireworks with a laser show.

It said: “A quotation of £3,500 has been obtained for a laser/ lights show substitute for fireworks the next West Bridgford Christmas Lights Switch-on, comparable to a quotation of £2,000 for a fireworks display with either traditional or low/ reduced noise pyrotechnics.”

However, it warns that cancelling firework displays altogether: “May be considered as excessive action by some residents and cause criticism/ reputational damage without full consultation,” and: “May be misinterpreted as a council cost-cutting exercise, confusing the message of the action.”

A spokesman for Rushcliffe Borough Council said: “A motion to consider the council’s use of fireworks was discussed at council in March 2020.

“Our scrutiny committee is set to consider further options on August 27. Depending on the outcome of that discussion, a decision to change our current practices would come to cabinet at some stage in the future.

“The council is currently streaming all meetings live on YouTube so that residents can tune in and hear the debate if they wish to, and a consultation with the public may also be part of the debate moving forward if changes are to be proposed.”

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