Armitage says playground removal bill ‘disgraceful’

Alliance Councillor David Armitage has said it is “disgraceful” that £6,000 of public money was used to move a children’s playground to facilitate a bonfire.

The figure was revealed to Alliance Belfast City Councillors in relation to the Chobham Street bonfire, which recently gained notoriety when swings and a climbing frame were moved from the playground, close to the Comber Greenway in East Belfast, due to dangers posed by the heat of the pyre.

East Belfast Councillor Mr Armitage said changes needed to happen before next year’s bonfire to ensure the same result wasn’t repeated.

“I realise the Council had no alternative due to the proximity of the fire but it beggared belief we ended up in a situation where equipment from a children’s playground was moved in the first place. But it makes the situation even more disgraceful to find out it cost so much public money to do so, especially in an area which could have used that money for community development.

“We cannot deal with this situation and other similar ones if we wait until next summer. That’s why Alliance are participating in meetings about next year’s bonfires now. While many people engaged with the Council and used a beacon instead, others didn’t, so it is clear a better working protocol is needed.

“While everyone has the right to celebrate their cultural traditions in a respectful manner, using the public purse to spend a staggering amount of money to facilitate them at the expense of others should not happen.”

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