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Wednesday 3 November 2010

Stamping out underage firework sales in Crewe

l-r John Malam, Steve Malam, Russ Malam, Stephanie Simcox all of Blitz Fireworks, Crewe and Cllr. Rachel Bailey

Fireworks company Blitz really sparkled during a Cheshire East operation to stamp out the underage purchase of fireworks in the lead up to Bonfire Night.

The Crewe firm, based in Hightown, was one of five retailers visited by Cheshire East Council’s consumer protection and investigations team during Operation Zenit.

Officers led the initiative with assistance from Cheshire Police to carry out test purchases at retailers in Crewe using 14-year-old volunteers. All asked for the relevant ID.

But what was particularly impressive about Blitz was its ‘beyond the call of duty’ approach by telling the ‘buyer’ he was too young before giving him a flyer about local Bonfire Night events – and two tickets for a firework display.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, Cabinet member with responsibility for safer and stronger communities, said: “It is such good news to know that licensees are carrying out their legal duty in asking for identification and refusing to sell fireworks to underage consumers.

“But I was also delighted to hear of the lengths Blitz went to. Its staff turned the situation around, which is an excellent response, and I congratulate the company for its diligence.

“We are working hard to put a lid on the underage purchase of fireworks. Young people handling fireworks can have disastrous consequences. Bonfire Night should be an enjoyable time – we do not want it to end with anyone being hurt or worse.”

John Malam, director of Blitz, added: “It is so nice to be praised for our approach in discouraging underage use of fireworks. It is our preferred way of trying to get children to enjoy Bonfire Night in a safe manner whilst understanding the history behind the celebration and its tradition.

“Blitz has a great relationship with consumer protection and investigations and it does a great job of keeping our streets safe from rogue products. I think its approach to clamping down on underage sales is fantastic.”

In the run up to Bonfire Night (Friday, November 5), Cheshire East would like to remind businesses they must be registered to obtain a licence to store fireworks.

Fireworks can be sold until November 10 and between December 26-31, three days before and on the day of Chinese New Year and also three days before and on the day of Diwali.

Cheshire East is checking that retailers are complying with legislation regarding the sale and safe storage of fireworks and spot checks will continue in the run up Bonfire Night to ensure fireworks are not being sold to anyone under 18. Businesses can only sell fireworks at restricted times unless they have a year-round licence.

All retailers selling fireworks must display a sign stating that it is illegal to:

  • Sell ‘adult’ fireworks (any firework except for a cap, cracker snap, novelty matches, party poppers, serpents, throw-downs and indoor fireworks) or sparklers to anyone under the age of 18;
  • Possess adult fireworks in a public place.

The penalty for selling to underage consumers can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000 or a prison sentence of up to six months, or both

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