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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Mid & East Antrim Council reveals costs of bonfire clean-ups in borough

Mid and East Antrim Council  Chamber and bonfire

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has responded to a query from a local resident over bonfire clean-up costs.

In response to a public question at a meeting at The Braid, in Ballymena, on Monday evening, the local authority has indicated that the cost of cleaning up bonfire sites was almost £37,000 last year.

The resident further claimed:

“You must be aware who is building these bonfires as you have been allegedly liaising with them regarding health and safety. Why don’t the bonfire builders leave the site the way they find it or pay the council the cost of the clean-up?”

Operations director Philip Thompson replied that the council has a database of 45 potential bonfire locations in the borough.

Of these, he noted, 20 are constructed on council-owned land with the remainder on land owned by the Housing Executive, Education Authority, Department for Infrastructure and on land that is privately owned.

Mr Thompson went on to say that the council  “encourages and supports communities to move towards the use of a beacon which provides the focus for a safer cultural celebration event”.

He indicated that last year, the council cleaned up 13 bonfire sites in Mid and East Antrim at a cost of £36,873 to local ratepayers.

Mr Thompson continued: “Council is not aware who is building bonfires and is not liaising with bonfire builders in relation to the building of bonfires.

“Council would agree that those responsible for creating the bonfires should be responsible for the associated cost of clean up and restoration of the site. Council has agreed to appoint an external facilitator to engage with bonfire builders to understand how a safer community friendly cultural event can be developed which respects the views of all stakeholders.”

Bonfire management has been highlighted in Mid and East Antrim following the death of Larne man John Steele after a fall from the Antiville bonfire which he had been helping to build in the town in July 2022.

In March, councillors agreed that council officers would liaise with community representatives to develop a “community engagement protocol” for bonfire management in the borough which will be brought back to members for approval.

The local authority agreed to commission a two-month consultation “to examine best practice in managing cultural and bonfire celebrations” and will engage with local communities, groups and organisers involved in such events.


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