The cost for a joint clean-up of the aftermath of Monday night’s bonfire and the grounds of a disused property in the vicinity by Derry City and Strabane District council is expected to reach ‘several thousand’ pounds.
A spokesperson for the local authority yesterday told the ‘Journal’ that whilst the final cost has not yet been calculated it is anticipated to be substantial.
Council also confirmed yesterday that it is working with the owners of the disused property to ensure “compliance with an enforcement notice which requires the building to be secured and removal of waste from the site.”
The local authority also stated that: “The owner of the property has asked Council to remove waste from the site following the recent bonfire nearby and they have agreed to pay Council for this work. The owner of the property will be required to secure the buildings when all waste materials have been removed.”
Up to 2,000 people attended the bonfire in the Bogside at the start of this week. Controversially, the organisers of the fire constructed the 20ft pyre on the road on August 15th. Those behind the move contended that the rationale behind this was because the owner of the disused property had asked the PSNI to remove bonfire material from the site at Meenan Square on Thursday, August 11.
Derry City and Strabane District Council were yesterday unable to give a precise figure for the cost of a clean-up of the August 15 bonfire in the Bogside as well as cleaning the grounds of a disused building at Meenan Park.
When asked for the final figure by the ‘Journal’ a spokesperson for the local authority said: “The estimated cost to Council for the clean-up will not be available until the work is completed and invoices received.”
The statement also said that the Council remains committed to working closely with all statutory authorities throughout the bonfire season.
“Council staff attended the scene of a number of bonfires this week to carry out extensive cleaning of the areas affected. Council is obviously concerned at the environmental impact of the bonfires and will continue to work in close partnership with the public, the community and voluntary sector and statutory agencies to highlight their concerns over this issue.
“The Council acknowledges the role bonfires play in local culture and heritage and remains committed to working in partnership with all interested parties to reduce the risk to public safety and the local environment.”
Speaking about the disused property at Meenan Square, Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly told the ‘Journal’: “This place is an eyesore and has been a blight on the community for a number of years. Amy steps taken to clean and secure it have to be welcomed. And, I believe that a more positive use for this building has to be found. The Police took the gate off the property in the first place so it needs to be properly secured.
“Thanks have to also go to the Fire and Rescue Service for their help throughout the entire thing and the Council’s Cleansing Department for their sterling work in cleaning the area up next morning.”
Meanwhile, People Before Profit (PBP) MLA, Eamonn McCann said: “The building, right beside the spot for storing wood for the bonfire, is an eyesore and insult to the people of the area. Inside it is dark, crumbling and infinitely depressing. To a lay-person’s eye, it looks beyond of repair or refurbishment. The building gives of an air of dereliction. Its a piece of ugliness set down at the crossroads of the Bogside and it signals a certain attitude towards the people of the area.”
The PBP MLA also called for the building to be demolished and replaced by a facility for young people.
“As to what facilities should be provided for the youth, we could always ask them,” he said.