Ideally, a total ban on consumer fireworks and hefty penalties for offenders, especially those who harass aid workers. The mayor of Zoetermeer, Charlie Aptroot, pleaded on Tuesday evening in his New Year’s speech.

“Fireworks deaths, injuries, hands off, eyesight lost, agents in The Hague with serious permanent hearing damage… It must be over!” These are harsh words from Aptroot in the middle of an otherwise cheerful New Year’s meeting in the Stadstheater. He himself also makes a contribution and plays drums on ‘Think’ by Aretha Franklin, with the catchy ‘Freedom’ in the chorus. But for some, the end of that freedom is near.

“I repeat what I said last year,” said the mayor, just before his retirement in his last New Year’s speech, “high time for a ban on consumer fireworks.” Preferably a total ban, because that is the clearest and therefore the best to monitor and enforce. And offenders and people who harass or even threaten or attack the emergency services. No more community service orders, but hefty fines for firework possession and for lighting them off. And very high fines and imprisonment for actions against aid workers. “

Aptroot, who will retire at the end of March, is widely acclaimed by our counterparts in our region. Mayor Johan Remkes of The Hague , Liesbeth Spies of Alphen aan den Rijn, Henri Lenferink of Leiden, Marja van Bijsterveldt of Delft, Bouke Arends of the municipality of Westland and Klaas Tigelaar of Leidschendam-Voorburg also argue in favor of a ban on flares and fireworks for consumers.