Belfast Telegraph

As Windsor prepares for Frampton’s return, residents say their concerns are being ignored

By Mark Bain

It is set to be another memorable night at Windsor Park - but the upcoming Carl Frampton fight has left some local residents frustrated.

Frampton takes on Luke Jackson at the national stadium on Saturday, August 18.

And while most locals have no objections to the sporting events regularly staged there, they are calling on the Irish Football Association (IFA) to do more to consult with them.

Some residents say they have now almost given up hope of their concerns being heard.

"There is without doubt considerable public support to have the boxing match between Carl Frampton (below) and Luke Jackson at Windsor Park on August 18," William Dickson, the chairman of Blackstaff Residents' Association, said.

"But we're concerned by the lack of consultation regarding this event, which will end much later at night, and indeed all events at Windsor Park.

"It was part of the planning permission for the new stadium that a community forum be set up to consult with local residents prior to all major sporting events. The last forum was on March 25, 2017.

"There are a number of issues being faced by the people who live here and we would like our views to be heard. We need discussion over responsibility for the Olympia Drive alleyway, between houses and the stadium, which has been left to rot."

Resident Martin McDowell said many locals feel their views are not being heard.

"We have parking issues, bottles and litter left after events and people using street corners as urinals, but any dialogue has dried up," he stated.

"I have to hand it to the residents around Casement Park. They have fought for their rights and seem to have got them and it's a bigger stadium. Engagement with people living here is virtually non-existent."

But the IFA has insisted it does regularly consult with residents.

It said: "The IFA contributes £50,000 a year to the Stadium Community Benefits Initiative to deliver social benefits, which is run together with the Department for Communities and Belfast City Council.

"On the week that the boxing contest was announced, the Irish FA hand-delivered 400 letters to local residents, outlining the details of the event and its potential impact. Feedback from residents was encouraged.

"Last month, the Association hand-delivered its quarterly newsletter to around 500 homes with details of the upcoming Irish FA Community Engagement Event which will be staged on August 26, which will give an opportunity to engage with Irish FA staff as well as representatives from Belfast City Council and to receive information on opportunities available."

However, one elderly resident in the area said the general feeling is that community spirit has been drained away.

"We don't feel we've been involved at all," she said.

"I've lived in Donegall Avenue for 53 years, I was even Miss Linfield in 1947 and we all kept this area going during the Troubles, but we feel forgotten now.

"We need more than a leaflet through our door."

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