FIRE chiefs in Edinburgh have assured that they don’t want to stop people having fun on Guy Fawkes Night but that they want to ensure that everyone is being safe.
Dangerous homemade bonfires are being removed in the Capital in the run up to Bonfire Night.
Community safety teams from the City of Edinburgh Council have spent the week taking down the sites across the city in a bid to prevent potential injuries and antisocial behaviour.
But David Lockhart, community safety manager at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are very much aware that this is an age-old tradition and we don’t want to stop people from enjoying this time of the year but we do need to make sure that people are safe and that communities are safe across the area.
“Where possible we would like people to go to organised events instead of having their own bonfire or fireworks as these are a lot safer.”
One particular bonfire on Wardieburn Road had to be reduced to the recommended 1.8 metres.
Speaking at the site Mr Lockhart added: “With this one we are going to have to make it a bit smaller and take away some of the items that are going to produce an awful lot of smoke when they start to burn.
“We have to consider the environment as in the houses round here and if we were to set this on fire now it would produce an awful lot of thick black smoke that obviously go into people’s homes.
“Every year we get hundreds of calls about nuisance and unsupervised bonfires putting real pressure on our resources at our busiest time of year. Our fire crews also see firsthand the damage caused to property and the risks of serious injury from out of control fires.
“We want to continue working with other agencies and the public to tackle the kind of behaviour we all know is detrimental to good quality of life.”
The move comes as the Council and Lothian and Borders Police launch their Antisocial Behaviour Strategy for Edinburgh 2010 – 2013.
The aim of the strategy is to prevent antisocial behaviour before it happens by tackling the root causes and resolving any issues at an early stage.
It will build on previous successes which have seen lower antisocial behaviour and crime rates across the city.
Councillor Paul Edie, community safety leader, said: “We want to be smarter in how we tackle antisocial behaviour by addressing the causes and not just the symptoms and by ensuring that communities play a prominent role in this process.
“It’s important the public don’t ignore issues affecting their community like nuisance neighbours, litter, fly-tipping, noise and graffiti, all of which can really impact on the quality of their lives and weaken communities.
“Tackling antisocial behaviour is a difficult challenge but one which can be addressed by good partnership working, moving towards long term sustainable solutions.
“The work being carried out this week by our Community Safety Wardens in dismantling the bonfires is a good example of preventing the potential for problems before they happen.
“We want people to enjoy Guy Fawkes Night but to enjoy it safely. One of the big risks there is things like disorganised, unorganised unauthorised bonfires. These can present all sorts of dangers to people and we want to make sure nobody finds themselves at risk.”
Superintendent John Hawkins, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: “The latest antisocial behaviour strategy for Edinburgh will seek to build on the progress we have made in recent years in improving the quality of life in communities across the Capital.
“By working closely with our partners, we have worked to address the underlying causes of antisocial behaviour in our communities, and this preventative approach has yielded positive results of which we can all be proud.”
Recent successes in Edinburgh have included a 14 per cent drop in vandalisms in 2009/2010 compared to the previous year.
A 27 per cent reduction in calls regarding antisocial behaviour to the Council over the past five years
A 75 per cent satisfaction rate from city residents on how the Council deals with antisocial behaviour (2009 Annual Neighbourhood Survey) – up 22 per cent from two years ago.
REPORT: Amanda MacMillan