Belfast Telegraph

Drugs and drink dens found by Newtownabbey residents in spring clean-up

By Linda Stewart

Drinking and drugs dens have been uncovered by residents carrying out a clean-up of their Newtownabbey estate.

Twenty residents took to the streets of Merville Garden Village last week and gathered more than 20 bags of rubbish in time for the flowering of the cherry trees round their homes.

The litter pick was a major push to clean up the estate as part of our Big Spring Clean campaign with Tidy Northern Ireland and Rethink Waste. We are hoping to galvanise more than 50,000 people across Northern Ireland into tackling the litter blighting their areas.

Meanwhile the residents of Merville Garden Centre are already planning more clean-ups, focusing on different parts of the estate. In the undergrowth they also found a series of drinking dens, including one full of large plastic bottles converted into makeshift bongs – evidence of drug use. The find has spurred the residents to work with the police in an upcoming project to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Resident Anne Carr said: "Thanks to the Big Spring Clean, the residents now feel more empowered to look after their area and seek help from the local authorities to make it a greener, cleaner place to live." Merville Garden village was designated a Conservation Area in 1995, the first one in Newtownabbey.

According to the Department of the Environment, "the formality of layout and consistency of architectural detailing make this area worthy of protection".

It said Merville was an area of special architectural and historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve and enhance.

Patricia Magee, campaign officer with Tidy Northern Ireland, said: "Merville Garden Village has a character of its own, with its beautiful grassy lawns and cherry trees. I can see why the residents care about keeping their estate clean and tidy. It's just unfortunate that irresponsible litter louts don't appreciate what they have on their doorstep."

The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with Tidy Northern Ireland and DoE Rethink Waste in a bid to inspire tens of thousands of people to roll up their sleeves this spring and tackle the litter blighting our towns and countryside.

Last year the Big Spring Clean mobilised an incredible 26,000 volunteers who lifted 163 tonnes of litter – equivalent to 23 double decker buses.

This year, we've set ourselves an even tougher target – getting 50,000 people to get involved in cleaning up litter hotspots in our towns and countryside.

Story so far

Joining in the Big Spring Clean is easy. All you need to do is register an event or join an existing event online at, order your free clean-up kit and get stuck in. Don't forget to tell us how successful your event was afterwards. Your local council will help by supplying additional kit and will collect the rubbish gathered. The website has your council's contact details to co-ordinate this. For more information, check out the website, email or, if you are not on the internet, call Tidy Northern Ireland on 028 9073 6920.

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