A Boyne Square community representative has described the local children’s play park as “dilapidated” and the MUGA pitch as a “deathtrap”.
Factory Community Forum community development worker Gareth McConnell made the comments after Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spent £400 repairing the playpark’s broken bridge, which had been boarded up.
Sections of the playpark’s surface had also been dug up, while a children’s climbing ladder was broken.
Gareth told the Times: “The play park has been up for 15 years, it was one of the first areas in the town to have a new play park and MUGA but now it’s dated and we are exploring options to get funding to have it updated.
“We would like a new play park with a high fence so it can be locked at night time. A lot of young kids play down there and older ones come to use the pitch so in terms of numbers there is definitely a case to have it upgraded. Others have since been upgraded to a far higher standard while ours is dilapidated.”
Gareth says that the current MUGA pitch at Boyne Square becomes slippery in rain or frosty weather, which has led to injuries.
“In winter our football pitch is a death trap and people have injured themselves, it is supposed to be slip proof and council have resurfaced it a couple of times but it doesn’t last long.”
While Gareth believes the damage was caused by “wear and tear,” DUP Alderman Gregg McKeen says vandalism was also a factor.
“A bolt was broken on the bridge which was wear and tear but the bits of surface looked like they had been picked off and the kids’ ladder also looked like it had been broken,” he said.
“We received reports that there was a crowd of young people hanging about, not as a concerted attempt to damage the park but engaging in the wrong behaviour. Council is developing a play park strategy and will be able to see where to target attention. I wouldn’t be concerned that any future playpark might be vandalised as it is all about community involvement.” The Factory Community Forum is now considering an application for lottery funding to update the playpark and MUGA.
A council spokesperson commented: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council would like to appeal to those engaging in this anti-social behaviour to stop and to ask parents and others with influence in the area to also discourage such activities. The park is open as initial repairs were done very quickly. However, a part for the ladder within the park is still being awaited so it’s not yet fully completed.”
A PSNI spokesperson asked that the community report anti-social behaviour to police.