Ratepayers foot a £65k vandalism bill

DAMAGE caused by vandalism in the Larne borough has cost ratepayers almost £65,000 in the past year, shocking new statistics have revealed.

Figures provided by Larne Council show the extent of damage caused to council-owned parks, open spaces and buildings throughout the borough since April, 2011.

And it has emerged that a whopping £22,170 of ratepayers’ money was spent repairing damage in Carnlough - more than three times the amount spent in Larne or Glenarm.

The bulk of the vandalism in the village - more than £13,000 - took place at playparks and at the multi-use gaming area. A further £3,250 was spent repairing fencing, walls, gates and cleaning up graffiti, while almost £6,000 worth of damage was caused to picnic tables, seating, signage and green areas.

In total, £46,570 was spend repairing damage to parks and open spaces across the borough. Glenarm was the area with the second highest amount of damage at £7,200, followed closely by Larne with £7,000. Drains Bay suffered damage amounting to £3,200, while vandals caused £2,500 worth of damage in Ballygally.

Repairs of £2,000 were carried out in Glynn and Ballycarry, and a further £1,500 in Islandmagee. The council also spent £100 fixing damage in the borough’s cemeteries.

Meanwhile, £17,684 was spent repairing damage caused to council-owned buildings, including more than £10,000 at the Leisure Centre, £1,500 at public toilets, and £3,500 at the council depot. Lead thefts were also a problem, with £1,400 worth of the valuable metal stolen from the Lions House at Carnfunnock Country Park and a further £700 from the council depot.

Larne Town Councillor Gregg McKeen, who requested the figures from the council, spoke of his “utter shock” at the level of expenditure, and described the situation in Carnlough as “particularly concerning”.

He told the Times: “It is madness that the council is having to waste almost £65,000 to repair facilities in the borough just because of mindless vandals. But if the council decided it was not going to repair this damage, we would come in for heavy criticism from local residents.

“I was especially taken aback by the extremely high figure for Carnlough, and it is clear there is a real anti-social element in the village that is causing this destruction.

“What is not clear is whether this damage is being caused by residents of Carnlough or from people coming in from outside the village. If it is the former, then you have to ask yourself why these people are destroying their own facilities, which are there for the benefit of everyone in the village. Either way, I will be speaking to police to see what can be done to combat this.”

Coast Road Councillor Maureen Morrow said: “Vandalism not only costs a lot of money to repair and ultimately affects the rates throughout the whole of the borough, but also detracts from the natural beauty of the area. Therefore we would ask anyone who sees vandalism taking place to report it immediately to either the PSNI on 0845 600 8000 or Larne Borough Council on 028 2827 2313 and help make the borough a more pleasant and less expensive place to live in.”