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Fury over youths using play park as drinking den

By Gareth Fullerton

Angry parents are calling for CCTV to be installed at a children's play area in Ballyclare to tackle an ongoing problem of anti-social behaviour.

A clean-up operation was required yesterday after bottles were smashed inside the facility - which is located at the town's War Memorial Park - on Saturday evening.

Ulster Unionist councillor David Arthurs said anti-social behaviour had become a "major problem", with some residents claiming they had been intimidated by youths in the area.

"This has been happening every weekend, and something needs to be done," Mr Arthurs said.

"The play area is close to the Sixmile Leisure Centre and people walk through the park regularly.

"Sadly, it has also turned into a drinking den for a lot of young people, and at the weekend there were bottles smashed in the park and a fire was lit.

"I have received a lot of phone calls from local residents who have also been intimidated by these youths.

"One woman contacted me whose daughter was prevented from walking through the park by these people on Saturday night.

"She is only a teenager and was walking home from work.

"She ended up having to contact her mother who went to collect her, and her mother was then subjected to vulgar abuse before bottles were thrown in their direction.

"They ended up having to go home a different way."

Mr Arthurs believes teenagers are to blame for the anti-social behaviour in the area.

"The people causing the trouble are teenagers - I would say the average age is about 15," he continued.

"Parents are angry and a lot of them want CCTV in the area.

"I have contacted the council and also the PSNI to see what can be done about this problem.

"Action has to be taken quickly or this problem will persist."

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