Firework 'risk' costs newsagent £10,000
A NEWSAGENT with a chain of shops in Weston was ordered to pay almost £7,000 after flouting safety rules for storing fireworks. Guljinder Hayer pleaded guilty to five charges of failing to store fireworks properly at his shop in Locking Road. North Somer
A NEWSAGENT with a chain of shops in Weston was ordered to pay almost £7,000 after flouting safety rules for storing fireworks. Guljinder Hayer pleaded guilty to five charges of failing to store fireworks properly at his shop in Locking Road.North Somerset Council trading standard officers were so concerned they seized scores of them from the shop just days before Guy Fawkes Night. Loose fireworks were found hanging on a wall and stacked behind the counter next to matches and lighter fluid.But Hayer, who owns four convenience stores in the town, has criticised the council for driving three loads of explosives across town in an open-back pick up truck.Emma White, prosecuting at North Somerset Magistrates Court, said a trading standards officer Alison Fletcher had warned Hayer about a number of breaches at his shop in Nightingale Court in Mead Vale on October 24. He was told further inspections would take place.But when Miss Fletcher inspected the Locking Road shop on November 2 she discovered Hayer was again not following safety rules, said Mrs White.She said: "Rockets were hanging on a wall and fireworks were being stored loosely in a box on the floor."They were also stacked behind the counter next to cigarettes, matches and lighter fluid."Other fireworks were stored against an electric extension cable, some in a disused ice-cream freezer while more were found in the staff toilet with bare wires dangling above them. Storage cabinets holding an array of fireworks were not 'fully enclosed' as the regulations demanded.Miss Fletcher immediately called in officers to seize the pyrotechnics which contained more than 40kg of explosives and were worth £2,880.Stewart Angelinetta, defending, said Hayer had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had never been charged with any previous offences.He said that Hayer had been in business in the town for 20 years and had been selling fireworks for the whole of that time.Mr Angelinetta said: "The risk was more apparent than real."The fireworks were taken away by the council in an open pick up truck by local rangers. It was a wet day and transporting of them could have caused an adverse chemical reaction."Magistrates fined Hayer £4,650 and ordered him to pay £2,040 costs.Speaking after the hearing Hayer said: "We have just been made an example of. We are hard-working citizens and do our best to keep on the right side of the law. What the council did in transporting the fireworks in open trucks was dangerous. What if they had been involved in an accident?"Trading standards manager Derek Wilkins said: "The most immediate risk was leaving the fireworks in the shop where there could have been customers smoking cigarettes.