Rodgers: ‘Headstrong’ bonfire builders need to listen to reason to avert danger

A car park in east Belfast has been closed to the public. Thousands of wooden pallets are now piled up where previously there were parked cars.
The bonfire makers are involved in a dispute with the city council over the storing of pallets.
 Photo Pacemaker Press
A car park in east Belfast has been closed to the public. Thousands of wooden pallets are now piled up where previously there were parked cars. The bonfire makers are involved in a dispute with the city council over the storing of pallets. Photo Pacemaker Press

A UUP councillor who grew up in the east Belfast area where a bonfire has taken over a public car park, said he is fearful of the consequences if it is lit.

Jim Rodgers appealed for dialogue with those building the bonfire at Ravenscroft Avenue, urging them at the very least to scale it back in consideration for those living nearby.

Mr Rodgers said he had been contacted by motorists concerned that they could not access the car park as well as homeowners fearful of damage to their properties.

The UUP man said: “There are flats, houses, a community centre and a play area all beside where the material is being gathered. Naturally people are worried they could be affected.”

He said the bonfire had traditionally been on wasteland which is now occupied by Ravenscroft Nursery School causing bonfire builders to relocate their material gathering to Ravenscroft Avenue.

With Belfast City Council set to launch an investigation into the issue of collection and storage of bonfire material, Mr Rodgers continued: “The amount of pallets which are there are more than ever before. There’s a danger to life and property. We need dialogue and people need to pay attention to what we’re saying and just not go about in a headstrong manner, continuing to bring pallets and other materials to that piece of land.

“We’re prepared to talk to them but that bonfire – with the amount of material on it – should not be permitted under any circumstances. It would have to be scaled down tremendously to permit it to go ahead. Even in doing that, the surface of the car park which had to be redone last year, would obviously be badly marked again.”