Woman says pallets at home near Belfast bonfire site are 'for decking'
A WOMAN has refused to allow authorities to remove pallets at her home near a bonfire site – saying she wants them for "decking".
Stacks of pallets are being stored beside the house in north Belfast's nationalist New Lodge area where youths have been collecting materials for an August bonfire.
The Housing Executive, which owns the property, has said it will seek legal advice if necessary.
For weeks public agencies have been working to remove bonfire materials from the neighbourhood amid safety concerns raised by residents.
Hundreds of pallets have been seized, with many found stockpiled on concerned householders' property without their consent.
However, it has emerged that one householder has not given permission for public agencies to remove pallets from their side yard.
It's understood both police and Housing Executive officials have called at the property at Maralin Place in recent days to discuss the matter.
When The Irish News visited the house yesterday, dozens of pallets were stacked in the grounds.
A woman inside was reluctant to speak, but said she intended to arrange herself for the pallets to be moved.
But when asked why she did not want the authorities to remove the pallets, she said they were "for decking".
A fire service official was also seen calling at the property yesterday afternoon.
The Housing Executive said it was "aware of pallets being stored in the grounds of a property in the New Lodge area".
"Our staff have visited the property and asked the tenant to remove them. The request to remove the pallets is being followed up in writing to the tenant.
"The matter is being kept under close review. Legal advice will be sought as necessary."
In a statement, PSNI inspector Paul Noble said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to dealing with issues around bonfires along with our partner agencies and we have been liaising with them in this area following concerns raised within the local community."
There have been increased safety concerns about bonfires built near homes after incidents including damage an apartment block by a loyalist pyre near Belfast's Sandy Row last month.
In June some residents also had to flee their properties in the New Lodge area after bonfire material stored nearby was set alight.
Anti-internment bonfires are lit in some nationalist areas to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment on August 9 1971.
Graffiti was recently painted on walls near the bonfire site at Victoria Parade in the New Lodge area warning against the removal of materials.