Now the clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and Bonfire Night is approaching, efforts are being made to keep Newcastle safe during the darker months of autumn, winter and spring. 

The Darker Nights campaign will see Newcastle City Council teaming up with a number of partners to minimise the risks caused by illegal bonfires, fireworks, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour. 

Newcastle City Council – and especially Your Homes Newcastle, the organisation responsible for managing its council homes – will be working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police, the North East Ambulance Service, and Trading Standards. 

In the build-up to Bonfire Night, staff from Your Homes Newcastle and the council will be monitoring the city’s fly-tipping hotspots and removing any combustible refuse. The council’s enforcement team will prosecute anyone caught illegally dumping rubbish. 

The Darker Nights teams will be clearing away any waste that could be used to light illegal bonfires and advising residents on how to dispose of bulky items such as mattresses and sofas. When burned, such objects can release poisonous fumes which can be harmful if inhaled. 

Darker Nights removal 3
A Darker Nights team removing illegally dumped waste

Last year, a similar clean-up campaign removed 43 tonnes of combustible waste from Newcastle’s streets in just three days. In 2015’s campaign, 70 tonnes were collected.

The chair of Safe Newcastle, Cllr Nick Kemp, said, “The aim of the Darker Nights campaign is to help protect the residents and businesses of Newcastle from anti-social behaviour that could cause people distress or even lead to loss of life.” 

“We are helping to raise awareness about the dangers of people creating and igniting illegal bonfires from discarded household materials. The campaign also looks at firework safety.” 

“The messages aren’t solely attached to Bonfire Night as we want residents to be careful and vigilant throughout the darker night season during autumn, winter and spring. We are working with our partners to create a safer Newcastle.”

The council stress that residents should always use licenced collection companies, and that residents and businesses should not use Bonfire Night as an excuse to get rid of their waste. People can be prosecuted for lighting illegal fires – an offence punishable with unlimited fines and even time in jail. 

photo courtesy of Manchester Fire, from Flickr Creative Commons
Those who start illegal bonfires can face fines and even prison sentences (photo courtesy of Manchester Fire, from Flickr Creative Commons)

David Langhorne, Your Homes Newcastle’s assets and developments director, said, “Every year we work with our partners to encourage those living in our communities to report any illegal activity so we can work together to help keep people safe.”

“We know that many of our customers find fireworks and bonfires intimidating. They can cause damage to people, property and pets. As a result, we’ll be out and about this week to collect piles of waste.” 

“Our customers can help with this campaign by recognising the dangers associated with illegal bonfires and not planning any of their own or contributing combustible waste to piles on their estates.”

“We ask that customers report any piles of combustible waste and/or fly-tipping to Envirocall.”

Chief Inspector Nicola Wearing, of Northumbria Police, said, “A lot of work has already gone on to tackle traders who have been selling illegal fireworks.”

“We have also seized a number of banned fireworks from members of the public and delivered safety inputs at schools alongside colleagues from the fire service.”

“This proactive work will continue in the lead-up to Bonfire Night with additional policing patrols across the force area.”

“Our main message is a simple one: only attend official fireworks displays.”

Two organised displays will be taking place in Newcastle. On Friday, 3rd November, between 6.30 and 7.00 pm, there will be a fireworks display organised by Ouseburn Community Centre at Ouseburn Stadium. Entry is free.

On Saturday 4th November, there will be a display by Gosforth Round Table, at Broadway West Playing Fields. The gates will open at 5.00 pm and the fireworks will start at 7.00 pm. Entry is £4.00 for adults, £2.00 for children and £10.00 for families of four. Under-fives go free.

If you spot a bonfire you think might be illegal, you can report it to the council on 0191 2787878. You can also ring this number if you have any other community or environmental concerns.

(Featured image courtesy of Manchester Fire, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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