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MPs urged to ban flares from concerts

BBC News BBC News 12/04/2016 By Mark Savage
Glastonbury festival: Flares are a common sight at festivals such as Glastonbury © BBC Flares are a common sight at festivals such as Glastonbury

MPs have been urged to consider a law banning flares and fireworks from music concerts and festivals.

BBC © BBC BBC

Conservative MP Nigel Adams has proposed the bill, which would make it illegal for concert-goers to carry pyrotechnics into a venue.

"Nobody should be seriously burned as part of a fun afternoon or evening," he said in Parliament.

"Nobody wants to see a Panic at the Disco," he added referring to the US rock band of the same name.

Currently, it is not illegal for fans to bring smoke bombs, flares and fireworks into a concert venue unless it can be proved they intend to cause harm to other people.

Mr Adams, the MP for Selby and Ainsty, argued that most people using such devices were not doing so out of "malice" but "boneheaded disregard for others [and] stupidity".

'Absolutely avoidable'

It is already a criminal offence to enter or attempt to enter a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke bomb or firework, punishable by up to three months in prison. Fans in breach of the law have also found themselves banned from football grounds for up to six years.

But there is no such protection for music fans, Mr Adams told MPs.

"Gigs and festivals are particularly popular amongst young people and both they and their parents have a right to feel safe," he said.

"Unfortunately this was not the experience of an 18-year-old girl who attended an Arctic Monkeys concert and required three dressings to burns on her arms from a flare that had been thrown; or the 17-year-old girl at Reading Festival who suffered a panic attack after being burned by a smoke bomb across her abdomen and her thighs.

'Cross-party support'

"These injuries and incidents are absolutely avoidable."

He cited reports of 255 incidents involving incendiary devices taking place at music events in 2014, whereas only three such incidents took place at football grounds in the same time period.

Mr Adams stressed that the proposals would not affect the use of on-stage pyrotechnics by bands and festival organisers.

The MP, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Music, added that his motion had cross-party support, and had been backed by concert promoter LiveNation and the Association of Independent Festivals.

The latter, which represents the Isle of Wight Festival, the Brecon Jazz Festival and Camp Bestival, said in a statement: "It is the responsibility of organisers to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for fans, and the government should support this objective by creating a level playing field between music and sports fans."

Finishing his speech, Mr Adams said: "I'm not sure if you're a fan of the Kings Of Leon, Mr Speaker, but we should ensure nothing untoward is ever on fire."

The motion passed, paving the way for a bill to be prepared and presented to Parliament.

However, bills proposed under the "10 minute rule" rarely result in legislation, merely allowing for an issue to be raised in the House.

A spokesperson for Mr Adams confirmed that it was unlikely for a bill to be presented during this Parliamentary session.

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