Gunpowder, treason and jail: Bolton firework fans warned against holding private bonfires on Guy Fawkes night

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Firework fans who start their own bonfires in Bolton this weekend run the risk of getting a jail sentence.

Bolton Council is urging residents to avoid non-organised firework events and instead attend official displays.

Leverhulme Park is hosting a free community bonfire event in the town tonight, with a funfair, live entertainment and traditional bonfire food.

Bolton Council insists that any private bonfires built on their land is fly tipping – punishable by fines of up to £20,000 or imprisonment.

Councillor Akhtar Zaman, Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, is urging the public to shun private events.

He said: “We’d like to ask residents only to attend an official bonfire such as this one and not to bring their own fireworks or sparklers to the event.

“If anyone does see a bonfire on council land or close to property, other buildings or trees, we would ask them to call the council’s contact centre.

“If residents see a bonfire on private land that they believe could be dangerous then they should contact Fire Stoppers on 0800 923 9999.”

Tonight’s Leverhulme Park display will begin at 6pm with entertainment from BBC Radio Manchester, before a musically-accompanied firework display at 8pm.

Traditional food favourites such as black peas, toffee apples and candy-floss will be available.

Council pleas for public compliance come amid similar calls by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Police, ahead of Bonfire Night.

Operation Treacle – the annual firework and Halloween operation run jointly by the GMFRS, GMP and councils – is in place to minimise accidents and disruption.

The operation highlights the dangers of antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and firework misuse, with a range of initiatives being undertaken by authorities to raise awareness.

These include alcohol confiscation, trading standards checks, school visits and increased anti-social behaviour combating.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Peter O’Reilly, spoke of the work officers are doing to minimise Bonfire Night danger.

He said: “As Bonfire Night approaches we want everyone to enjoy it safely and we are working with partners to make that happen –  so there are Treacle teams in every area of Greater Manchester, consisting of firefighters, police officers and Trading Standards.

“Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s fire protection officers will be visiting premises storing fireworks to check people are complying with regulations to help keep people safe.

“And firefighters and community safety teams are visiting schools across Greater Manchester to talk to children about the dangers of fireworks and encouraging them and their parents to go to organised bonfire events – which are much safer – to ensure people have an enjoyable but safe bonfire season.”

Similarly, GMP Chief Inspector Donna Allen, who is leading Operation Treacle is urging  residents to stay safe over the weekend.

She said: “If used incorrectly fireworks can be incredibly dangerous and I would always urge residents to attend an organised event rather than hosting their own fireworks party.

“Not only is it safer but many of the events are free.”

For information on the dangers of attending unorganised bonfires, or preventing anti-social behaviour over the Bonfire Night period, visit

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