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Wokingham Borough Council is asking its residents to stay safe and be considerate to their neighbours during Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations, especially this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council is urging residents who may be considering setting off fireworks and lighting bonfires in their gardens to think twice before potentially putting additional pressures on emergency services and potentially harming any neighbours who may be suffering from Covid-19 or respiratory conditions.

While bonfires are allowed with social distancing, at certain times and with certain materials, we are working with our partners to discourage them. Where bonfires are taking place, we are patrolling to ensure rules are being followed and everything is considerate to those who live nearby.

To support and reinforce this important message officers from the council’s Shared Public Protection Partnership (PPP) will be working with colleagues from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS).

The council understands that many events have been cancelled this year due to Covid-19 but is asking residents to remember that fireworks are explosives and as such should be treated with respect and only used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code.

Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure said: “Our residents’ safety is our number one priority. Please be considerate to your neighbours and avoid putting additional pressure on emergency services and the NHS by having a bonfire, especially during this pandemic when your neighbours may have underlying respiratory health conditions.

“If you are planning on having a bonfire please, out of courtesy, discuss your plans with your neighbours first, ensure you stay safe by following the safety advice from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and remember that burning damp materials causes excess smoke. And, don’t forget to check the bonfire pile for hedgehogs before lighting it. It is important that we all observe Covid-19 restrictions – remember the rule of six and Hands – Face – Space.”

If you are going to have a bonfire, the RBFRS have offered the following guidance to those planning on having a bonfire:

  • Build bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
  • Never burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it could quickly get out of control.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended.

Officers from our Shared Public Protection Partnership have been carrying out patrols across the borough this month in a campaign to crack down on nuisance bonfires. Smoke or the smell of smoke from bonfires that disturbs neighbours is an illegal offence and can result in a fine.

Anyone found burning commercial waste can be prosecuted and face up to a £20,000 if it causes black or dark smoke. To find out more or to report an incident of a bonfire please visit the PPP website and search bonfires. For more information on celebrating safely this Bonfire Night and Diwali, visit www.rbfrs.co.uk/CelebrateSafely.

 

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