Belfast Telegraph

Holyland: Plan to address Halloween anti-social behaviour following 'five weeks of mayhem'

Police in the Holylands
Police in the Holylands

By Eimear McGovern

A plan has been put in place to address anti-social behaviour in the Holyland over the Halloween period following 'five weeks of mayhem' in the area.

Chair of College Park Avenue Residents' Association Brid Ruddy said the multi-agency meeting at Belfast City Hall exceeded her expectations.

We've been talking about this for twenty years. Statutory agencies have turned a blind eye, resulting in complete lawlessness. I think many people thought it was too big a problem to sort out," she said.

"We've now had a full and frank discussion accepting the limitations and I believe there is a sincere desire to tackle this.

"There has been five weeks of mayhem in the Holyland and Halloween was looking like more mayhem."

Belfast City Council and the PSNI have now arranged to conduct joint patrols in the area through to the early hours of the morning over the Halloween period.

It's ahead of a 'Purge Day' rave at Ormeau Road's Hatfield House starting from 3pm on October 30 and going on until 1am on Halloween.

A representative of Hatfield House said the venue has run these events for a number of years and have never had any issues.

"The theory behind them is that it keeps the kids or students off the streets in a bar. Last year we were commended by the PSNI and council for the day raves that we ran.

"Nobody has come to us with concerns this year. Instead of having a ten-hour rave like what was planned, we've turned it into a daytime event, which usually finishes at around 6pm."

Alliance Party MLA Paula Bradshaw, who attended the meeting, said: ""I sincerely hope that these additional resources will be enough to address the high levels of anti-social behaviour that is taking place night after night.

"Everyone in the room was certainly united in feeling exasperated that after all these years the anti-social behaviour has not been addressed - and in reality it has got worse - and so there was a commitment to continuing to meet over the next couple of months to develop a focused, longer-term approach.

"Of course the statutory agencies can only do so much. I would call on the young people living in the area to respect their neighbours and behave responsibly at all times."

Holyland resident Brid Ruddy

Brid Ruddy said the meeting was a frank and full discussion which ultimately looked at regeneration of the Holylands area in coming years.

"The council is undertaking to look at regeneration of the Holylands with an aim to rebalance the area and reduce the amount of HMOs. People with no stake in the community are making up 90% of those living there and that needs to change."

"They also realise their plan for anti-social behaviour needs to be addressed. This is the first time I feel like they are willing to do something," she said.

Ms Bradshaw said: Going forward, what is needed is serious investment in the area, to redress the balance in these areas in terms of housing tenure, streetscape and the community infrastructure."

A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: "Council continues to work in partnership with the PSNI, universities and colleges, and other statutory agencies to address anti-social behaviour in the Holylands. Council resources in the area are increased at key times in the academic calendar, for example Freshers' Week and Halloween. Our community safety team engages with residents and students to help address problems such as on-street drinking and noise.

"Council officers engage regularly with residents and host public meetings to allow residents to raise concerns and highlight issues. Some of these issues are considered to be criminal damage and it is the role of the PSNI to investigate this."

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