BONFIRE builders from New Mossley are due to meet with Newtownabbey Council’s Director of Development Services this week following complaints from local residents about fly-tipping and tyres being dumped at the bonfire site on the green at Manse Way.
Although bonfire builders in the estate didn’t sign up to the council’s ‘Bonfire Protocol’ this year, it is understood they have agreed to meet with Majella McAllister, who is in charge of Community Development, Good Relations and Community Safety initiatives at Mossley Mill.
A council spokesperson confirmed that the meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday (July 3), but was unable to say exactly what issues would be up for discussion.
The meeting comes in the wake of complaints from local residents about illegal dumping along the roadside at Manse Way, and fears that the bonfire builders are planning to burn hundreds of tyres on the Eleventh Night.
Although the practice of burning tyres is illegal, the PSNI and other government agencies are reluctant to forcibly remove them from bonfire sites for fear of public disorder.
Despite efforts by the bonfire builders to tidy the area up last month, there has been more fly-tipping at the site since, adding to the eyesore opposite Earlview Primary and Hill Croft Schools.
One local senior citizen, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said that he and his neighbours are concerned about the illegal dumping at the bonfire site, and the damage to the environment and risks to people’s health caused by the burning of tyres.
“We are not objecting to the bonfire as such; we are objecting to the state of the area it is covering and the potential health effects that local people will suffer, particularly older people and people with breathing problems, if they set fire to all these tyres.
“People are just dumping their waste at the side of the road. There is an old oil tank, a bath and general household rubbish lying there. There must be three hundred or more tyres as well. The place is a total mess.”
The pensioner, who called for the tyres to be removed and the site cleaned up, added: “The cost of cleaning up the environment and repairing the damage caused by the bonfire is horrendous. This is thousands of pounds being wasted every year - money that could be better spent refurbishing people’s homes.”
Jack Shaw, the Chairman of New Mossley Community Group, said he understands the residents’ concerns.
“The vast majority of people in the estate don’t have any problem with there being a bonfire, but they don’t want to see the place in a mess. They don’t want to see their local area and the atmosphere being polluted by tyres being burned on the bonfire, and I think the majority of people would like to see the tyres being removed.
“We have been working hard to make sure we have a good outcome from this, and we will continue to work hard in the days ahead,” he told the Times.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive, which owns the land at Manse Way, said they are aware of residents’ concerns relating to dumping and tyres at the bonfire site.
“Staff are in contact with local representatives in an effort to have these issues resolved. If requested, the Housing Executive can make arrangements for materials to be removed,” she said.