Communities being turned into dumps

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Communities in Ballymena are being turned into dumping grounds by the disposal of unwanted material at bonfire sites, councillors have heard

Updating members at their latest monthly meeting on July 4 on the ongoing civic work around ‘Cultural Celebrations’, Philip Thompson, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council’s Director of Operations, said “quite a number of concerns” had been received just the previous week about sites at Cullybackey, Broughshane, and Ahoghill and on the morning of the meeting itself in relation to Kellswater.

Regarding Ahoghill, he said arrangements were subsequently made to go out to the village and lift material “to avoid fires being lit”.

“There seems to be a pattern developing at some of these sites - Broughshane and Ahoghill - where fires are being lit to burn material which is unwanted.

“Over the past week, including the Ballymena area, there are concerns that communities are actually being turned into dumping grounds and the organisers don’t want this to happen either. An awful lot of material being dumped on sites which they don’t want to see there.

“It seems unfortunate but communities are basically being turned into dumping grounds,” Mr Thompson said.

A written report presented to the meeting revealed that the clean up of sites last year had cost ratepayers around £25,000.

The report described the expression of cultural identity as “a sensitive issue” and pointed out that council officers, councillors and community representatives continued to work together to address issues of concern and that “good success” had been achieved this year in gaining a commitment to remove tyres from some sites.

It stated: “In relation to bonfires/beacons there was minimal complaints received by Council by early June and most areas reported that the majority of sites were being well managed with little tyres”.

Councillors went on to agree a number of recommendations including that Council staff respond quickly in the aftermath of any bonfires on Council land to return the areas to acceptable levels of cleanliness and repair and encourage other stakeholders to do the same on their lands.