£17,000 fence to keep yobs out of play park

The play area in Sixmilewater Park. INNT 06-093-FP
The play area in Sixmilewater Park. INNT 06-093-FP

THE children’s play area in Sixmilewater Park, Ballyclare has been closed temporarily while measures are put in place to deter anti-social yobs from gathering at the site.

Newtownabbey Borough Council confirmed this week that the play park at Avondale Drive is expected to be closed for up to two weeks while new, higher fencing is erected around the facility.

The work at the £200,000 play park, which only opened in December 2011, is being carried out in a bid to improve security at the site.

Following complaints from local residents about crowds of unruly youths hanging around the play park the council has decided to install new fencing that will allow the facility to be locked in the evenings.

The local authority confirmed this week that erecting the new security fencing will cost £17,525.

“In reaching this decision we did consider whether or not we could keep part of the play area open while the work takes place. Unfortunately due to health and safety considerations this was not an option. The good news is that we hope to have the play area back in action in two weeks. We are also planning to re-use the existing fencing which is being removed in the forthcoming refurbishment of the play area at Ballynure,” a council spokesperson commented.

A row erupted in summer 2011 after the council decided to build the new play park just yards from people’s homes on Avondale Drive, despite a public consultation exercise revealing that local householders wanted the facility sited on the opposite side of the park.

Residents hit out at the council’s decision, warning that the play park would attract crowds of underage drinkers and other anti-social behaviour. And after months of problems at the site, one local householder branded the facility “a centre of excellence for anti-social behaviour”.

Greg Hopkins, Chairman of the Avondale Residents’ Group, welcomed the council’s decision to improve security at the site.

“It’s an excellent play area and it’s great for the kids, but it’s just in the wrong place.

“At least the council has listened to us this time and has decided to do something about the anti-social behaviour.

“We’re pleased that the new fencing is going up and it will make a real difference as long as the gates are locked at nights to deter young people from gathering,” he said.