A WIDNES councillor who witnessed a serious firework injury to a childhood friend is urging parents to keep a close eye on their children in a bid to prevent a similar tragedy this Bonfire Night.
Councillor Shaun Osborne, chairman of the scrutiny panel for safe and attractive neighbourhoods for Halton Borough Council, said parents should be asking their kids where they are going and what they will be doing in the evening and to ask them if they plan to play with fireworks.
He said: 'Over this period parents should ask their child where they are going at night and remind them about the dangers of fireworks.
'It only takes parent a few seconds to this and we need to raise awareness at this time of year - no-one wants a child to be injured.
'Fireworks are fine when handled in a proper manner but they are not something to be taken lightly.
'About 30 years ago a friend of mine was injured with fireworks - he had bangers in his hand and they exploded and he nearly lost a finger and an eye.
'Kids just don't realise the danger they are putting themselves and other people in.
'I have no problem with organised events with professional pyrotechnics but I am opposed to people having them in public places where they can be misused.'
Cllr Osborne pointed to incidents highlighted last week in the Weekly News including two firework 'bombings' of post boxes on Birch-field Road and Lytham Road, Widnes, which caused explosions strong enough to kill or seriously maim anyone caught in the blast. Police are still investigating.
He said: 'The post box incidents were appalling. They were done by somebody's child and somebody knows who has done this.
'Anyone could have been walking past and shrapnel was sent 30ft away and could have killed someone - basically this is how a bomb is made.'
Cllr Osborne welcomed changes to the firework licensing regulations which mean the cost of a licence to sell fireworks in Halton is to rise from £80 to £500 and shops will be checked to see they have suitable storage facilities.
He said: 'It will cost £500 for a licence in the near future. I think that is high enough to ensure that anyone who pays that much will be sensible about who they sell fireworks to.
'The council is working with the police and fire brigade to reduce these kinds of incidents and trading standards are checking shops in the area.'
Cllr Osborne urged people only to buy fireworks made by reputable manufacturers as some cheap imported fireworks could be dangerously unpredictable.