TWO regional societies have announced a ban on fireworks sales in the run-up to November 5th.
Leeds Co-op is refusing to sell or stock fireworks in an effort to show the society's commitment to public safety and to help reduce nuisance in local communities.
And at Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op, spokesman Adrian Barradell said that safety issues together with problems associated with minors trying to buy fireworks had led to their decision to suspend sales.
Mr Barradell said the society had also opted not to sell eggs to under-16s in advance of Halloween – unless youngsters were accompanied by an adult ? as a means of curbing the annual "trick or treat" menace.
"We feel both of these policies reflect our co-operative spirit in the community," said Mr Barradell.
Leeds Co-op Chief Executive Alan Gill said his society's decision was an example of a co-op putting principles before profits.
He told the News: "We are committed to making Leeds a better city to live and work in and we believe that by not selling fireworks we can help reduce the injuries and the noise nuisance when inconsiderate people let them off late at night."
Leeds Co-op is keen that people continue to enjoy Guy Fawkes' Night and is promoting local organised fireworks displays in its stores and via its website: www.leeds.coop
Four other major independent societies ? Lincolnshire, Ipswich and Norwich, Plymouth and South West and Heart of England ? have long-standing policies against fireworks sales.
Lincolnshire Co-op Assistant Food Controller Ken Gregory told the News his society had not stocked fireworks for over 30 years and said the society also supported local displays as the best way of tackling safety issues.
However the Movement's big three retail societies ? the Co-operative Group, United Co-operatives and Midlands Co-op ? are continuing to sell fireworks to people who can prove they are over 18.
"Our policy is being reviewed every year, but we are happy with our decisions so far," said United spokeswoman Janette Shingler.
"We have enforced the ?Challenge 21' policy which monitors the sale of age-restricted items. If you look under 21, you have to prove that you are over 18 to buy fireworks."
Meanwhile the Co-operative Group has donated £ 2,500 to help fund South Yorkshire Police's Operation Mischief 2004 campaign, which aims to tackle anti-social and yobbish behaviour in advance of Halloween and Bonfire Night.
The Group's regional loss prevention manager Richard Quinn said: "We are concerned about the rise in anti-social behaviour across the UK and are pursuing community partnerships as one way of tackling a problem which affects everyone."