Unsafe bonfire stack sparks safety fears on Wolverhampton estate
A huge bonfire stack on a Wolverhampton housing estate has sparked concerns from public health and safety bosses because it has been piled too high.
Hordes of people have also been adding rubbish, broken furniture and other unwanted fly-tipped household items to the wood pile that local people started building last month.
In readiness for Bonfire Night on November 5, residents in Ashmore Park, Wednesfield, had started creating a wood-based community bonfire on land in Whitehouse Crescent.
However, the stack has now become a major safety hazard after people started fly-tipping on the site and adding household rubbish to the original pile.
Councillor Phil Bateman said: “I have alerted the city’s safety officials and they are concerned about the size and the contents that are being heaped onto the bonfire.
“Preparations have begun very early this year – far too early in my opinion – which has led to some fly-tipping occurring at the site before the council was made aware of the bonfire in order to deploy CCTV to the area.
“The wood pile, when inspected by a city official towards the end of September, was far too high – and even then, at unsafe levels, officers tell me.
“City safety officials wrote to me this week saying that they have been unable to contact anyone from the local community who wants to take responsibility for the bonfire.
“They further informed me that they have been speaking with the local Tenants and Residents’ Association, who have been trying to contact people who were involved in the community bonfire last year, as to whether they will officially take responsibility for next month’s event.”
Local resident Shelley Cole agreed that the bonfire looked unsafe.
“The land is not actually all that big for where the stack has been built, and now there’s rubbish and other bits of wood that have been strewn all around the outside of it,” she said.
“No-one seems to know who – if anyone at all – is responsible for it. There’s bits of broken furniture that have been dumped all over the grass away from the bonfire as well. It’s a right mess.
“If someone sets fire to it I could easily see this getting out of control very quickly and ending in disaster.”
Councillor Bateman added: “Last year a group of residents signed up to take ownership of the bonfire and were told by the council that this would have to happen again this year.
“The council has told me that it has heard nothing as yet from any residents about the 2019 Bonfire night proposal.
“There has been a large increase in the number of complaints regarding this year’s bonfire, based on concerns about disturbances from last year’s event and the organisation of this year’s event.
“I want all Ashmore Park residents to be aware that, as it stands, safety officials have informed the local Tenants and Residents’ Association that if they cannot get a nominated responsible party for the event this week, then the wood pile will be removed.
“If however, the council has contact with a responsible party, they will be required to attend a Council SAG (Safety Advice Group), meeting before the event takes place.
“By doing that, the City Council Safety Advisory Group will have a chance to understand what safety arrangements will be in place on the night, if a licence is agreed.
“I would advise residents living local to Whitehouse Crescent to be aware of this important information,” he said.