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It's time to cut our losses and take fireworks off the shelves; SHOUT SETTING THE WORLD TO RIGHTS, ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Byline: Tom Evans My

IF I'M as good at judging my readers as I think I am, you'll have spent the week on tenterhooks, waiting to hear what I've been up to since last Friday, when I went on about maps for too long.

Well, get down off those tenterhooks and wait no longer.

I went to a fireworks display. Yes, Bonfire Night was Monday, and now it's Friday, so this isn't exactly up-to-the-minute bleeding-edge journalism. The display, in fact, was on Sunday, so it's even older news.

If this column were on the website, the comments section would be overflowing with Very Clever Indeed comments about how old this news is. But it's not.

I went to the display with my son, but we didn't have a wry and self-referential conversation about anything, so you're spared that at least. I did come to a conclusion, though - fireworks shouldn't be on general sale any more.

This isn't because the display was rubbish (it definitely wasn't) or because it wasn't safe (it definitely was). In fact, the quality and safety of organised displays only highlights the problems with selling fireworks to the public.

Firstly, events like the River of Light - or smaller shows like the one we went to, at Sutton CC, in St Helens - offer professional displays for little or no outlay.

Why huddle in someone's back garden watching lower-quality fireworks being set off in whatever order they come out of the box? Secondly - and more importantly - fireworks inevitably find their way into the hands of people who really should not have access to explosive devices. Bonfire Night itself saw them launched at cars and emergency service workers, and one stuffed into the pocket of a rough sleeper - surely now it's time to say, as ECHO readers did after the latter outrage, enough is enough.

If we were starting society again, we wouldn't dream of having these powerful explosives on general sale in the first place - let alone after years and years' worth of evidence that bad things happen every time.

Calling for things to be banned is a bit of a cliched response and one I normally try to avoid.

But I can't see another way - either we carry on as we are, accepting the odd act of senseless, explosive violence as an acceptable price to pay for our sub-standard back-garden displays; or we cut our losses, restrict firework sales to licensed, regulated operators, and face November with a little less dread from now on.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2018
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