Councillors are investigating the use of ‘silent’ fireworks for future displays in Bideford after a petition to protect starlings roosting under the bridge.

Torridge District Council's full council received a petition last night (Monday, April 8) signed by more than 6,200 people, stating fireworks in the town were 'cruel' to starlings roosting under the longbridge.

Bideford resident Rob Durrant, who started the petition after the latest fireworks display on New Year's Eve, addressed councillors as he handed in the petition at the meeting.

He urged TDC to prohibit any further fireworks displays from taking place too close to the longbridge, and that any displays in the vicinity of Bideford should have a 'reduced noise level'.

"This council owns much of the land traditionally used for detonating fireworks," said Mr Durrant.

"This is land you are holding in trust for the people of Torridge."

Mr Durrant said he had letters of support from the RSPB, as well as Devon Wildlife Trust, and that the move would protect all wildlife, as well as pets scared by the loud bangs of the fireworks.

The petition has also received support from wildlife-loving celebrities including Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan.

"Councillors, we look to you to make an emphatic move towards a better way of doing things," concluded Mr Durrant.

At the time of going to press, the petition online had received 6,295 signatures.

In a meeting last month, Bideford Town councillors voted unanimously to support the petition, and to investigate other options for displays in the town.

Councillor Peter Christie, who is also a town councillor, said it was important that the two councils worked together.

"We (the town council) were looking at lasers, but unfortunately they turned out to be very, very expensive," he said.

"We're now looking at quiet, or 'silent' fireworks, and the people that organise the New Year's Eve fireworks are going to get some and we're going to set them off and see what they sound like.

"I think we've got no other option but to push this forward."

Councillors voted, with the exception of three abstentions, to take the petition to its Community and Resources (C&R) committee to pursue it further.

The matter will now be taken on by C&R, where any further action will be discussed after the May elections.