Joint bid to clamp down on allotment fires

A COUNCIL has joined forces with fire chiefs and the police to launch a clampdown on allotment bonfires.

Hartlepool Borough Council is warning plot-holders across the town that they could face eviction if they ignore guidelines on the burning of garden waste and other rubbish.

The clampdown comes amid increasing concern about the potential impact of fires on public health and safety and their drain on Cleveland Fire Brigade resources.

Helen Beaman, senior environment officer with the council, said: “A lot of allotment sites are close to residential areas, so fires can have serious implications for the health of local people, particularly children suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma.”

Statistics show that fire appliances were sent to seven incidents recorded as allotment fires last year, with firefighters in attendance for almost seven hours.

A further five allotment fires have been recorded so far this year requiring attendance of just over six hours.

Peter Bradley, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s community liaison officer, added: “The hourly cost of an appliance attending an incident is around £254, so these incidents have cost the brigade over £3,000.

“This is a waste of resources that could be put to a much better use, particularly in the current economic climate.”

Letters are to be sent by the council to allotment associations across the town seeking their co-operation.

The council says bonfires on allotments should only be lit during the last week in March and the first two weeks of November each year to coincide with the start and end of the main growing season. But it is urging people to compost waste wherever possible and to dispose of other rubbish at the council’s household waste recycling centre, in Burn Road.