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Local parks experience big rise in booze and nuisance

By Paul Ainsworth

SOUTH Belfast’s parks continue to have a “significant” problem with public boozing and other anti-social behaviour, the Council has warned. New figures show a stark rise in incidents right across Belfast city parks and leisure facilities, with Botanic Gardens topping the city list of problem parks in the period between February and May. The growing scale of the problem has prompted the Council to prepare “alcohol enforcement operations” to target drinkers this summer.

Over 45 incidents were reported to Council staff by outraged members of the public about Botanic Gardens alone, the majority of which related to alcohol misuse, but with “rowdy or nuisance” behaviour also causing concern. Meanwhile, vandalism, animal problems and drug abuse were also reported, while in Ormeau Park. where almost 35 complaints were received, nuisance behaviour was the main problem, with booze a close second.

As a result of the findings, the Council have confirmed both Botanic and Ormeau parks to officially have “significant” problems with drinkers. However, a new Park Warden scheme to be introduced this summer across Belfast could help reduce the number of incidents, it’s been claimed.

“It is anticipated that the reports of drinking will be addressed through the roll-out of the Park Warden pilot together with coordinated joint alcohol enforcement operations which will take place during the summer months in Botanic, Cavehill Belfast Castle and Ormeau Park,” a Council spokesperson said.

 

“People who use our parks will be able to report anti-social behaviour as it happens, and hopefully it can even be prevented in many cases outright.”

 

Meanwhile, in Council-owned facilities across the Laganbank ward, overall anti-social behaviour incidents skyrocketed from six reports in February to May of last year, to 47 in the same period this year, while Balmoral also saw a rise in same period.

Laganbank Alliance Councillor Cathy Curran welcomed the introduction of Park Wardens and said she hoped they could help tackle the problem. “People who use our parks will be able to report anti-social behaviour as it happens, and hopefully it can even be prevented in many cases outright,” she said.

“They are an important asset to South Belfast and the more we can do to keep them safe for all to use the better.”

 

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