Councillor praised for tackling Wareham Forest Fire

Councillor praised for tackling Wareham Forest Fire

Published by Maria Greenwood at 12:06pm 11th June 2020.

Tributes have been paid to Dorset councillor and firefighter Mike Parkes for his time spent tackling the Wareham Forest fire.

Along with colleagues from throughout the county he spent day after day tackling the fire which left a large area of wood and heath destroyed. The fire is believed to have been caused by a discarded barbecue.

A petition has since started in Dorset calling for a ban on the sale of disposable barbecues and some shops have already taken them from the shelves.

Wareham Forest Fire

Chair of the council resources scrutiny committee Cllr Piers Brown said at an online meeting that Cllr Parkes, a retained firefighter in Ferndown, had spent the best past of two to three weeks with hundreds of colleagues .

He said:

"I just thought this was a pertinent time to pay thanks to him and his colleagues for the amazing work they do keeping us safe.

"You do amazing work many of us are not brave enough to do ourselves."

Later in the meeting Cllr Parkes spoke about the effects the council’s closing of tips had in leading to an increase in fly tipping and bonfires.

Dorchester tip re-opened
Dorchester tip re-opened

He said that in his own area there had been an increase in people burning their rubbish because they had been unable to get to local tips, with the risks that involved for fires getting out of control – the increase in fires coming at a time when emergency services were stretched with priorities elsewhere.

"We need to be aware of the impact that closing these centres has had and, in particular, the cost implication moving forward of picking up the issues around flytipping.

"If we do move forward to any more restrictions, because of a second spike, or localised lockdowns, we should consider the impact of our waste and recycling policies."

Council leader Spencer Flower said the authority had little option but to close tips and, temporarily, stop the garden waste collection service.

He said he was aware that cross-border tips at Somerley and Millhams, which are use by both Hampshire and Dorset residents, had caused traffic problems and said that an on-line booking was about to start to reduce the queues.

Cllr Flower said the information he had was that fly-tipping had not increased any more than usual, but he accepted the point that tip closures might encourage more people to illegally dump their rubbish.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter