Botanic Gardens forced to close early as sun seeking hordes engage in boozing and anti social behaviour

‘Fun’ in the sun forces park closure

By Paul Ainsworth

AN unseasonal heatwave caused early summer madness in a South Belfast park, as huge crowds forced gates to be closed early, due to boozing and anti-social behaviour.

Park rangers were forced to call the police last Tuesday, March 27 when up to 2,000 people, many students, took to Botanic Gardens to soak up the sun as temperatures soared. From late afternoon however, it was evident that alcohol was being consumed in many cases, while others were engaging in what one officer described as “inappropriate behaviour”, which forced families with young children to leave.

Cops and council safety wardens were forced to herd the crowds out of the park – which was due to close at 8pm – an hour early over fears the atmosphere could take a turn for the worse. Revellers left behind a carpet of rubbish that had to be left overnight so wardens could tackle it the following morning.

The behaviour of some young people, which ruined the day for others, has been slammed by a local councillor who said those who took booze to the park and engaged in anti-social behaviour, should have had more consideration for other visitors.

Alliance councillor Cathy Curran said: “We don’t get hot weather here very often and it seems that some got carried away in the sunshine.

“Botanic Gardens is one of our best local locations, and should be available for use by everyone. Those who forced the wardens and police to close the gates early need to be more considerate for others, especially when it is popular with families with young children.”

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council told the South Belfast News that police officers advised shutting the gates early, and said that by the afternoon alone, numbers were getting out of hand.

“More people were also trying to access the park as evening approached,” she said.

“It became obvious that many were drinking and this led to an increase in anti-social behaviour. After being called, the PSNI advice was to close the gates immediately. We would appeal for people to respect the bye-laws and be considerate of other users.”

Meanwhile, a PSNI spokesman confirmed they had “health and safety fears” over the numbers, and said they were able to clear the park within an hour, and lock the gates for 7pm.

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