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Committee ‘minded to refuse’ plans following local opposition

Boost for anti-arcade campaign

By Paul Ainsworth

PLANS for an amusement arcade in a quiet Finaghy estate have suffered a major setback, following a meeting of Belfast City Council. A special meeting of the council’s Licensing Committee was held last week, attended by the applicant and Erinvale residents opposed to the gambling venue opening on their doorstep.

Councillors revealed they had received an “overwhelming” amount of objections to the application at a row of shops in Erinvale Drive, and the committee told the applicant, businessman Colin Cavan, they were “minded to refuse the application”.

Mr Cavan can appeal the decision however residents said they hoped the plans were now off the table due to the amount of objections and cross party political support for their concerns. The meeting was also attended by South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell, who voiced concerns over potential problems caused by such a venue in a neighbourhood populated by young families and the elderly. Throughout the application process, residents have spoken of their fears that an arcade could increase levels of anti-social behaviour in the area while even police spoke out against it, recently warning it could prompt a rise in crime. However, the applicant had denied these claims and insisted strict rules over entry would have prevented a rise in anti-social behaviour.

Erinvale resident Norman Campbell told how even neighbouring areas came out in force to back their concerns.

“We were joined by Trossachs’ residents, who supported us in this campaign and came along to the meeting,” he said.

“We hope this will be the end of the matter, and would love to see an application for something that can really benefit the area in that shopfront. We’d also like to thank the support from our local politicians who put all differences aside to back us fully.”

Mr McDonnell added: “My office had been inundated with calls and objection letters in relation to the proposed amusement arcade. This is a residential area.  An arcade in the heart of this community is totally unsuitable and local people are understandably opposed to this proposal.

“I joined local residents in making representation to the Licensing Committee, Belfast City Council  in opposition to this application and we are delighted that the Committee took our concerns onboard and made the decision to refuse it.”

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