Bradford residents claim firework use linked to drug crimes

RESIDENTS claim the anti-social use of fireworks is linked to drug-related crimes with one describing scenes “like a horror movie” when teenagers descended on their street.

A motion pressing for action against anti-social firework use is to be put forward and discussed at Bradford Council’s Full Council Meeting next Tuesday.

Councillor Julie Glentworth (Con, Keighley West), who is bringing the motion to the meeting, told the Telegraph & Argus that residents said Category 4 – professional grade – fireworks were being used as weapons between drug gangs, to indicate a “drug drop” and for weddings past the 11pm curfew.

The motion says “very good work” is being undertaken to test purchase in shops, with roughly 10 per cent of licensed retailers caught in breach.

But it added: “There is much anecdotal evidence and widespread public belief that it is the clandestine and even openly advertised sale of Category 4 fireworks which is often the primary cause of the year-round problems, with many people across the county and beyond, firmly believing that their use is often connected with drug-related crimes.”

Cllr Glentworth said: “Other people are saying fireworks are being advertised on street lamps, for Category 4 fireworks.

“It’s absolutely criminal.”

Just last month, a Bradford teenager died after fireworks mayhem in Vickerman Street, Halifax on Bonfire Night.

Qais Muhammad, 17, who is understood to have links to the BD8 postcode area, was found injured in the garden of a property on the street, after falling through a greenhouse.

He was rushed to hospital but died of his injuries.

Referring to the incident, the motion said the chaos was “large-scale” and “possibly pre-planned”.

It added: “One local resident described the scene as, ‘like a horror movie, just horrible’ and that teenagers were still throwing fireworks at residents when emergency services had arrived, with another stating that she leaves her home whenever teenagers are in groups with possession of fireworks.”

Cllr Glentworth mentioned residents feel there are “no go areas” due to the anti-social use of the explosives.

She also said she knows someone’s son who nearly lost his eye from a firework.

She added: “A lad held a firework, let it blow out and it nearly hit his eye.

“People are scared stiff of fireworks now.”

Councillor Abdul Jabar, portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and community safety at Bradford Council, said: “Councillors and residents across the district are rightly angry about the anti-social use of fireworks.

“When used irresponsibly, they cause upset and harm to people and their pets at all hours of day and night.

“That’s why in our motion to council just over a year ago we set out a series of practical measures and urged government to take this matter seriously by bringing in tougher laws.

“Unfortunately the Conservative government’s spokesperson Jacob Rees-Mogg rejected that.

“Mr Rees-Mogg said in parliament he was ‘unsympathetic’ to calls for tougher action on fireworks in Bradford.

“Despite the limits of local powers, we won’t stop there.

“My colleague Labour Councillor Nazam Azam has led a scrutiny review setting out six recommendations which are currently being delivered.

“A great deal of partnership work is taking place with the police, fire services, council officers and the voluntary sector to tackle this issue on a local level – we are determined to build on that progress and press government for the action our residents need to see nationally.”

The motion says the council resolves to work collaboratively to ascertain whether there is widespread illegal sale of Category 4 fireworks within the Bradford district, the wider county and beyond.

It also wants to introduce a requirement for all public firework displays within the local authority to be advertised in advance of the event, to allow residents to take precautions for their vulnerable people and animals, as well as a public and retailer awareness campaign about the impact on these people.

Finally, it says Bradford Council should 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.

This letter will also push for legislation to encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock “quieter” fireworks for public displays and increase enforcement, the motion says.

West Yorkshire Police did not wish to comment.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus | Bradford