ST HELENS Council will launch an awareness campaign around the use of fireworks due to the distress they cause animals and other vulnerable people.

Currently, St Helens Council has no powers to licence or set conditions on private firework displays.

This week, a motion was tabled at full council by former Labour councillor Gill Neal, now a member of The Independents, calling for various actions around the use of fireworks.

An amended motion was submitted by Labour’s Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing.

Cllr McCauley said: “Whether it’s Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve or any other celebration, we all love our fireworks, or so it seems, but not for animals.

“Fireworks are terrifying and for many cases, fatal. Many dogs and cats flee deafening blasts.

“Animals become confused and panicked and animal charities always see a spike in the number of admissions during fireworks displays.

“Simply, keeping animals indoors is not enough.”

Cllr McCauley’s amended motion, which was passed following a vote, calls for the council to work proactively to encourage organisations to inform them about their events.

They will then be offered support, including support from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, and free promotion.

The motion also calls for the council to write to the government asking it to bring forward stricter controls on the sale of fireworks and to legislate to enable local authorities to licence all public firework displays and be given powers to enforce the conditions of the licence.

Finally, the motion resolved for the council to actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people, including precautions that can be taken to mitigate the risks.

St Helens Conservative group leader Allan Jones said the amendment “strengthened” the original motion.

One of the amendments was to remove a proposal to write to the government urging it to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays, to encourage suppliers to stock quieter fireworks for public display.

Labour’s Dennis McDonnell, a health and safety advisor, said this was “incompetent” as it is “unenforceable”.

St Helens Star: Cllr Gill Neal, ward member for WindleCllr Gill Neal, ward member for Windle

Cllr Neal said she brought the motion to council following written requests from 15 residents, adding that it was part of the RSPCA’s ‘Bang Out Of Order’ campaign.

The former Labour councillor said she did not care which motion was passed, so long as the council reached a consensus.

Cllr Neal said: “I’m welcoming the debate tonight because it’s exactly the right forum to bring these motions and have the debate.

“Because anybody watching from home probably watches this meeting and thinks all the decisions get made behind closed doors.

“And in this room we all know most of the decisions are made behind closed doors, but this has been an opportunity for us tonight to demonstrate, actually, we can have a sensible conversation.

“To be absolutely fair, I don’t care which motion gets passed, whether it’s that amended motion, this motion, whether we defer it – I don’t mind so long as we come to a consensus because that’s what we’re supposed to do as leaders.”

The amended motion was passed by the council.