DSD and church asked to secure trouble hot-spot

By Gráinne Brinkley

A HOMEOWNER whose perimeter wall is used by young people to access waste ground that has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour has called on the owners of the land to secure it.

The Mica Drive resident was speaking after his fence was torn down by the youths over the weekend. The ground, which is part-owned by the Department for Social Development (DSD) and the Diocese of Down and Connor, was the location of an internment bonfire a few weeks ago and is regularly used for underage drinking and illegal drug-taking.

The resident, who did not want to be named, is now calling for the land to be properly secured or developed to prevent it being used for anti-social behaviour.

“Since May the problems on the land have been bad but they went up another level when they were collecting bonfire wood,” said the Mica Drive resident.

Summer

“It’s a running battle to stop them from using my driveway to jump the perimeter wall. You get a lot of abuse from them and when you go out and complain they challenge you to fight. The most intense period is the summer when the schools are off as some of them really are just kids.

“Residents would really love to see the land put to good use as it is just a magnet for teenagers. There’s also been talk going back maybe five years of houses being built there, so when is that going to happen? Both the DSD and the church have a duty of care to put up proper security around this land.”

Local Councillor Tom Hartley also called for the land to be developed.

“We have been continually working with all the statutory agencies to try and resolve this issue,” he said.

“The land needs to be developed as it is a meeting place for anti-community activity.”

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Down and Connor confirmed that it owned part of the land which was “secured with fencing”.

“We have received no complaints about anti-social behaviour on our section of the land,” said the spokesperson.

The DSD said it was “active in addressing the anti-social activity on its land at this location, including the removal of bonfire material”.

“This site is also included in the Department’s programme of regular site inspections and maintenance schedule,” said a DSD spokesperson. “A social housing scheme had previously been considered for the site, however it did not proceed as the site has a number of constraints that do not make it viable to develop. The Department is currently considering other options for the development of this land.”

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