Sheffield pub landlord’s anger at ‘ridiculous’ rocket ban

Ban: Landlord Richard Francis has been banned from having aerial fireworks at his pub, the New Inn in Norton, at his bonfire display tonight.
Ban: Landlord Richard Francis has been banned from having aerial fireworks at his pub, the New Inn in Norton, at his bonfire display tonight.
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Flaming-MAD landlord Richard Francis reckons Health and Safety officials should be given a rocket after they banned him from holding a firework display outside his pub.

Mr Francis, who runs the New Inn, Hemsworth Road, Norton, claims Sheffield Council officials are taking health and safety legislation too far by preventing him from setting off aerial fireworks from outside his pub tonight.

They have given him the go-ahead for a bonfire and small fireworks, including catherine wheels and fountains, but have stopped him from setting off rockets or any other fireworks which are fired into the air.

Mr Francis, who spent 20 years working for South Yorkshire Police, said his organised display would have been safer than allowing lots of individuals to set off their own fireworks.

He notified police and the county’s fire service of his plan and no objections were raised, but when council officials visited his pub they knocked his display back.

Mr Francis, who is still lighting his bonfire tonight, said: “I followed all the correct procedures, such as contacting the police and fire service and sorting public liability insurance, and then with just a few days to go the council’s health and safety department tell me I can’t set off any aerial fireworks.

“It’s ludicrous bearing in mind anyone can set them off in their gardens without question, yet when I try to do it properly and with safety first they penalise us.

“The police, fire service and council are always encouraging people to attend organised displays and I try to organise one and am stopped from doing so.

“They should be working with official display organisers rather than against us.”

The council admitted the decision was down to health and safety fears because the pub is in a residential area.

Nick Chaplin, environmental protection manager, said: “We have no problem with the New Inn holding a bonfire or setting off non-aerial or ground level fireworks like fountains, wheels, roman candles and such like.

“What we do have an issue with is the use of aerial fireworks that go up into the sky.

“The reason is simple – there is not enough room for an aerial firework display to take place on that site.

“The fireworks would either come down into the crowd, the public highway or people’s property and we can not risk people’s safety.

“As a business, The New Inn does not need to cancel it’s bonfire, the event organisers just need to make sure they do not use any aerial fireworks during the event.

“I’m sure everyone attending can have a great night and enjoy the bonfire safely.”

n A bonfire and fireworks display is to be held at The Barrel in Chapeltown on Monday.

The event, which starts at 6pm, will raise cash for charities, who are setting up also welcome a number of stalls.