Experiment with voluntary firework-free zones

Published: 17 November 2017Modified: 21 November 2017

The Municipality of The Hague will test out voluntary firework-free zones in the Scheveningen city district over New Year’s.

Residents of this city district are welcome to declare their street, square or playground firework-free. The residents will also be responsible for enforcing the rules themselves. The municipality will facilitate the residents with signs to demarcate the zone.

Scheveningen fireworks (photo: Bart van Vliet)
Scheveningen fireworks (photo: Bart van Vliet)

Fireworks survey

The idea behind the voluntary firework-free zones came from a survey the municipality conducted this summer among its residents. Some 13.500 city residents took part and 64% of the respondents said they welcomed the idea of implementing firework-free zones. A smaller, but quite substantial number of people were convinced they would be able to talk with their neighbours and agree to new rules.

The voluntary zones will be added to the municipality’s 23 firework-free zones around hospitals and city farms. The municipality is responsible for enforcement in these already existing zones.

Initiatives at street and neighbourhood level

The survey revealed that residents of The Hague are divided on the issue of fireworks. A large group is quite attached to the practice of lighting fireworks while another group is less fond of this tradition. The researchers concluded that the only initiatives which stand a chance of success are ones introduced at street or neighbourhood level. A number of good initiatives came out of the survey and they deserve a chance at local level throughout the city. The municipality’s role is primarily to facilitate and provide support while the residents are responsible for organising it themselves.

An example of support are the 200 activities carried out by Bureau HALT to teach children and young people about firework safety. Children who take part get free firework safety goggles. The goal is to distribute a total 10,000 safety goggles.

Cleaning up firework debris (photo: Inge van Mill)
Cleaning up firework debris (photo: Inge van Mill)

Firework displays

Another way of reducing the nuisance is by organising firework displays at a central point. This is why the municipality is again supporting 2 professional firework displays: at the Hofvijver and on Scheveningen beach.

Residents of Laak also have plans to organise a firework display. The municipality has indicated that it welcomes this initiative and that it is prepared to support it financially because it fits in the municipality’s aim to give New Year’s back to the city and the residents.

Messaging via Twitter

Another successful instrument will also be expanded: messaging via Twitter. Last New Year’s the municipality held a pilot project in Loosduinen in which residents could report nuisance to the police quickly and easily via Twitter. This led to 6 arrests. This New Year’s it will be possible to send messages to the police stations in Scheveningen, Overbosch and Segbroek.

Super-fast legal process

The Hague will crack down on people who violate the law. The police employ a special team to hunt down illegal fireworks. People who have misbehaved in past years get a warning letter or even a restraining order. The public prosecutor will also use the super-fast legal process in the days after New Year’s. Young people will have to perform community service as far as possible at the spot where they misbehaved.