On 5 November 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder, as part of a terrorist plot to blow up Parliament and King James I (King James VI of Scotland) on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.
Since then, prior to each State Opening of Parliament by the Monarch, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder. ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ or ‘Bonfire Night’ became a day of celebration in British culture.
Fireworks and the law:
According to the Leicestershire Police website, fireworks can be used in any time from 7am to 11pm. Exceptions are Bonfire night – 7am to midnight, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year – 7am to 1am the following day.
Unless it is part of an organised event by licensed professionals, fireworks cannot be used on the street or in a public place and it’s an offence to throw or set off any firework – including sparklers and ‘throwdown’ fireworks like firecrackers, bangers and party poppers – in or into any highway, street, thoroughfare or public space. Members of the public may only use fireworks on private property, such as their back gardens, and only licensed professionals can use them in public places.
Elderly and/or frail people as well as animals are particularly vulnerable to indiscriminate and reckless use of fireworks and there is always the risk of explosion or damage from fire. Be considerate to your neighbours and maybe warn them beforehand so they can take precautions like close their windows and keep their pets indoors, etc.
Mis-use or inconsiderate use of fireworks constitutes anti-social behaviour. If children are causing a nuisance by setting off fireworks, police advice is firstly to ask them politely to stop. It’s possible they’re unaware that they are breaking the law. If you know their parents, perhaps ask them to intervene.
Also, smoke from bonfires could be assessed as a statutory nuisance (ie spoiling someone else’s enjoyment) prompting action by a local council. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many people are required to spend extended time at home and it is important they are able to open their windows for fresh air, make use of their gardens or balconies, etc.
Whilst bonfires are not illegal, think about your neighbours and avoid having a garden bonfire at this time.
The latest COVID-19 rules for your area – Postcode checker (GOV.UK website)
Finally – General Safety! 2
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and socially distanced.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary.
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
- Make sure any fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.