Belfast Telegraph

Play park grand opening smeared by activity of vandals

By Bob Malcolm

The £236,000 Ballysillan Play Park and Multi-Games Area has been officially opened by the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.

Just over two weeks ago the play area was vandalised – with human excrement being smeared on equipment – during the refurbishment process and extra council wardens were stationed at it to prevent further defacing of equipment.

The DSD has recently been implementing a number of public realm improvement schemes within the Ballysillan neighbourhood including new bespoke style railings to the front of Ballysillan Leisure Centre and the Ardoyne Road.

Following these improvements it was decided that the Ballysillan play park should be replaced and a new multi-games area provided to regenerate adjacent vacant land.

Chair of the Ballysillan and Upper Ardoyne Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership, Wilson Lambe, said: "My own feeling is that it's an excellent idea to have a play park in that area.

"It's sad that louts are already vandalising it and smearing excrement on parts.

"It's disappointing, £236,000 was spent on this facility for young people, not teenagers, to amuse themselves."

He said at times activities such as this would lead one to despair, especially since there was a masterplan for regenerating the area.

"At the end of the day it's for young kids and you don't want to see anything like that happening where they are meant to be playing."

DSD minister Nelson McCausland said: "Play for children and young people helps them to blossom and flourish and is essential for their healthy development and well being. I know that these new facilities, together with the recently completed public realm schemes, have helped to create a more attractive environment for local communities and businesses in the Ballysillan area.

"By funding environmental improvement schemes, the Northern Ireland Executive, through my department's Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, continue to invest in the improvement of the environment and image of disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

"I am determined these areas will become more attractive places in which to live, work and invest. Of course, schemes like this do not happen on their own and this project is an excellent example of the public sectors coming together to deliver benefits for this local community, in this case between my Department and Belfast City Council."

Councillor Gareth McKee, Chair of Belfast City Council Parks and Leisure Committee said: "I would like to congratulate those involved in this environmental improvement scheme that involved new be-spoke railings, a refurbished play park and new multi-games area. The Belfast Regeneration Office, in partnership with Belfast City Council has delivered significant physical renewal and environmental improvements to this area. Environmental Improvement Schemes bring physical renewal along with the possibility of attracting new investment and make neighbourhoods such as Ballysillan more attractive places to visit, shop, work, live and play."

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