Antrim and Newtownabbey Council calls for ‘safer places’ fund

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has passed a motion requesting the Department of Justice to bring forward a ‘Safer Places Fund’ which could see greater investment in street lighting and CCTV security cameras.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 6:10 pm

A ‘Safer Places Fund’ would enable the PSNI and local authorities to bid for investment in these crime prevention initiatives.

The council has also welcomed an announcement by the Northern Ireland Assembly to initiate a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy and endorses the Women’s Aid petition calling for the strategy to be implemented.

The motion is also seeking the council to form a taskforce to work with the Community Safety Partnership to develop a publicity campaign promoting safety apps and engaging with the PSNI, Women’s Aid and Soroptimists and has requested that other councils do the same.

Council headquarters at Mossley Mill.

The motion was proposed by Glengormley DUP Councillor Alison Bennington and seconded by Ballyclare DUP Councillor Jeannie Archibald-Brown at a recent council meeting prompted by safety concerns following the disappearance and alleged murder of Sarah Everard in London last month.

Proposing an amendment, Antrim SDLP Councillor Roisin Lynch asked that the council would engage with women’s groups to “promote and enocurage them to apply to council funding streams”.

Deputy Mayor SDLP Councillor Noreen McClelland, who is an ambassador for the Women’s Aid charity, said: “I believe it is important we speak with one voice on this issue and welcome the discussion.”

Cllr Archibald Brown stated: “It is unfortunate this motion has had to come through in 2021 in a progressive society when females do not feel safe on our streets. This is not a feminist issue, it is a societal problem.”

Sinn Fein Glengormley Councillor Michael Goodman commented: “I think we can wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed.”

Airport SDLP councillor Alderman Thomas  Burns said: “It is entirely wrong in this day and age violence against women and girls.”

Meanwhile, an inspection of CCTV cameras in Antrim and Newtownabbey has revealed that two in town centres and three at council properties are not working. The findings were highlighted in a routine planned maintenance report and are being investigated with a review to repair.

There are 415 cameras installed across the borough with 11 “public facing” in the Glengormley and  Abbey Centre areas of Newtownabbey with CCTV in the “wider Glengormley area”  found to be “very poor”.

Councillors have been told that discussions with the PSNI with regard to sharing the financial cost for upgrading the “public facing” cameras have not been successful to date.

The PSNI, property owners and maintenance contractor have highlighted a number of issues with the local authority’s CCTV provision that include “poor quality” of images and “poor or no images at night time”.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Women’s Aid ABCLN welcomes strategy to tackle violence against women and girls

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