Cost of repairing play area vandalism reaches £130,000

September 21, 2010

A Newry and Mourne Councillor has described as ‘deeply disturbing’ news that the Council spent almost £130,000 on repairing the district’s play areas damaged as a result of vandalism last year.

Sinn Fein Councillor Pat McGinn says now is the time for the Council to address the issue instead of ‘fire-fighting’ it.

“There seems to be an accepted culture of Council either closing the play area, thus denying the vast majority of residents access to recreational facilities, or continuing to spend thousands of pounds constantly repairing the damage. Either way the ratepayer, and ultimately the community, suffers,” he said.

“Abandoning our local play and recreational areas is viewed by many as effectively abandoning our communities. We are sending a clear message to those engaged in anti social vandalism that we now accept that type of behaviour and that ultimately those anti social elements will dictate as to where our communities can have play areas and recreation.”.

Mr McGinn says the Council should consider using schemes such as Park Patrol or Park Warden/Ranger Service where those employed as wardens would patrol, fix and report problems within the parks and playgrounds of  Newry and Mourne.

“We do have such type wardens in Kilbroney Park, but I would much rather our Council spending monies on employing people to ensure a dawn-til-dusk service that patrols all of our parks and playgrounds rather than spending nearly £100,000 papering over the cracks, which results in fear, frustration and anger within local communities who have to endure the anti social behaviour and ultimately the loss of facilities.

“We would also need the support of other agencies such as the PSNI and indeed the communities to ensure that a scheme like this would work,” he added.

Sinn Féin will be asking Councillors and senior Council Management to investigate its proposals in moving this issue forward, he said.

“Public spaces are a barometer of a community. Safe, well-maintained and attractive public spaces have a critical role in creating pride in the places where we live which, in turn, is essential to building community cohesion and successful communities. That is why it is essential that our Council lead the way and is committed to action to make public spaces cleaner, safer, greener places that enhance the quality of life in our neighbourhoods, villages and towns,” he said.