Belfast Telegraph

PSNI watch bonfire rebuilt next to electricity sub-station - threat to thousands of homes

By Brett Campbell

Residents in Co Down have expressed outrage after police stood by and watched an unsafe bonfire being rebuilt beside a sub-station.

The potentially dangerous pyre was removed from Circular Road in Newtownards back in May due to serious safety concerns, but a group of men began rebuilding it yesterday morning.

"It's ridiculous and completely reckless to light a huge fire right beside an electricity hub so close to people's homes," one resident said.

"But it is even more ridiculous that the police are just standing watching them do it. This can't be allowed to go ahead."

Earlier this year the PSNI supervised Housing Executive contractors as they dismantled the structure. However, there was criticism of a decision to dump the lifted material in a park in Comber.

DUP councillor Naomi Armstrong-Cotter said the new bonfire, situated beside Weavers Grange near the Scrabo estate, had been built by people who are not even from the area.

She added: "I have contacted the Housing Executive and demanded urgent action to be taken in cooperation with the PSNI to address the safety issue of a bonfire so close to an electricity sub-station."

"Whilst we have the freedom to celebrate culture and heritage in a respectful way, safety is paramount and it is my grave concern that this is simply not safe."

Thousands of homes could be left without power if the sub-station is damaged.

Meanwhile, loyalist Jamie Bryson has warned that removing material from the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast will "exacerbate tensions" and "undermine positive work" in the area. The East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI) spokesman was responding to reports that contractors from outside Northern Ireland are preparing to remove wood from the site under the supervision of the PSNI after residents expressed safety concerns.

The Department for Infrastructure said officials were liaising with the PSNI and other agencies "to assess the best approach to managing public safety" at the site.

Belfast City Council said that while the bonfire was not on council-owned land, it will "continue to do everything it can" to address concerns.

Meanwhile, loyalist Dee Stitt was mocked on social media following the collapse of a huge pyre in Bangor's Kilcooley estate on Friday night.

He had boasted the "military operation" was constructed with the help of "structural engineers" before it gave way.

The Charter NI chief was ridiculed further after he claimed it had been deliberately pushed over due to safety concerns and vowed on Twitter that it was "being bilt (sic) again".

Belfast Telegraph

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