Retailers are being warned they must not sell fireworks or alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 in the lead up to Bonfire Night.
With November 5 certain to bring more and more young people out to enjoy the fireworks, businesses are reminded to remember their responsibilities.
Cheshire East Council’s Trading Standards officers, working with underage volunteers, will once again be carrying out spot checks across Cheshire East to ensure fireworks are not being sold illegally.
And if anyone is found to be flouting the law, it could result in serious penalties including a prison sentence or hefty fines.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member in charge of communities and regulatory services, said: “Retailers are advised they should be diligent in determining the age of purchasers and proof of age should always be asked for.
“Penalties for selling to underage people can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000. A prison sentence of up to six months also cannot be ruled out.
“I would also urge businesses to be aware of ‘proxy buying’, where a person over 18 buys alcohol for someone underage. Please be extra vigilant that this could be taking place right outside your store. It is also an offence to ‘proxy purchase’ and those doing so will be punished.”
Last year’s fireworks test purchases, carried out by Cheshire East Council on 32 premises, proved that the area has very responsible businesses, with all showing a clean bill of health. However, some were found to be selling alcohol.
All retailers are reminded they must display a sign where fireworks are supplied or exposed stating that it is illegal to sell adult fireworks or sparklers to anyone under 18, or possess fireworks in a public place.
Meanwhile, residents are being warned to be wary of counterfeit fireworks and not to buy goods from the back of a van, car boot sales or unlicensed premises.
The authority is keen to ensure residents keep safe and have an enjoyable Bonfire Night and wants people to remain vigilant and ensure the fireworks they are buying are legal.
Bangers have been banned in the UK since 1997 but they are still known to be in circulation. Many are illegally counterfeited using the Black Cat brand, which can lead some consumers into a false sense of security.
The bangers – small red tubes with a short fuse on top – have been found to be selling in packs of 10.
Anyone who suspects someone of selling illegal or counterfeit fireworks should call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.