Ministers will announce later on Friday that they have decided not to implement a nationwide firework ban in an effort to reduce the injuries and damage to property caused during the New Year firework frenzy, broadcaster NOS reported.
Although many mayors and the police favour a ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public, ministers have been able to reach agreement among themselves, the broadcaster said.
Instead, councils will be able to continue establishing ‘firework free zones’ in areas near zoos, pensioners homes and schools, an option which few take up at present, because of the problem of enforcement.
A spokesman for the Dutch national police union told the broadcaster that the firework lobby has ‘won again’. The New Year festivities are an enormous risk for the police and present a ‘gigantic problem’, he said.
‘The police have to deal with a large group of people who have been drinking or talking drugs, all carrying fireworks,’ he said.
Last year the Dutch safety board OVV said firecrackers and rockets should be banned during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in order to cut back on injuries and damage to property.
Some 500 people end up at accidents and emergency departments with serious injuries during the New Year’s Eve celebrations, making it the most dangerous time of the year in many places, the board said.
However, NOS says the cabinet will agree to implement several other of the board’s recommendations. Firework sellers will be required to provide their customers with free protective glasses and supports for setting off rockets.
Last week, the Dutch local authorities association VNG wrote to home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren saying the idea of allowing local authorities to decide themselves whether or not to ban certain types of firework will not be effective, and would have a knock-on effect on neighbouring towns.
The four big cities in particular want a nationwide approach but, the VNG states, tougher rules will be useless unless there is enough capacity to police the ban.