I am aware of an anonymous flyer (attached) being circulated in the local area as well as another from Cllr Declan Boyle regarding an idea for a local Children’s Playpark being located on the land alongside the end Sharman Road (Lagan Valley Regional Park side).
I have been receiving a number of emails over the weekend about this idea.
I wish to make clear that this is an idea, nothing more, nothing less. There is no formal provision for this and I appreciate that there are concerns. I note the objections that I have received and have responded to most of them as best I can.
I do not know who the author of the flyer (attached) is, as they remain anonymous, for whatever reason. However, please be aware that these concerns have been noted and recorded.
This is an idea which was suggested to Cllr Boyle in his role as a local representative for the area, which he, in turn, consulted me about, and which in turn you as local residents are being consulted about. Those who have contacted me by email have made their views clear, for which I thank you for.
However, I wanted to highlight a number of points:
- There is an online survey on the idea available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9W8GQTN or alternatively visit http://childrensplaypark.oldstranmillis.org.uk/. I urge you, if you have not already, to complete this survey in order to establish an overall opinion.
- Some residents’ have highlighted concerns about antisocial behaviour, namely two types: drugs and youths drinking. I and others are aware of these issues and working with the Police to mitigate them as best as possible. Local residents’ have been instrumental in securing the search and arrests of persons suspected of drug dealing. In fact, due to the actions of one resident, a male was arrested by Police in and around Christmas Eve with a quantity of illegal drugs. Nevertheless, given the nature of this problem (which is NI-wide), it is not going to go away anytime soon. The drug dealers basically move on, then return. It’s a vicious cycle and not unique to Stranmillis.I feel it pertinent to highlight that the issues over youths drinking and misbehaving do not feature prominently in Police Statistics. While there are reports from looking at the Police Crime Statistics Map (see: https://www.police.uk/northern-ireland/Lisburn Road/crime/), they do not feature as prominently as I would have been led to believe. That is not to say that it is not happening, but if you see a group of youths with beatboxes and alcohol please lift the phone and report it. This is the ONLY way we can guarantee a Police response and have it evidenced. If it is not reported it never happened as far as the authorities are concerned.The onus is therefore on us all to call Police on 101.
- I want to reiterate that this is an idea for which your opinion is greatly appreciated, and one, as any, of which there will always be a range of views on. A Playpark is not going to be built tomorrow, next week, or next month. In fact, it may never happen as there is currently no funding in place for it. It is an idea for which feedback is being sought to see if there is any basis of support for it.Some residents who have emailed me have referred to the development across the Lagan, which includes a bridge. Work on site has and will begin this month. Issues have been identified and raised about the consultation process over this development and are being connected in with the idea of a Children’s Playpark. The two issues are entirely separate and unrelated as the idea of a Playpark is an idea, which was suggested to Cllr Boyle by some residents, who in turn is working in conjunction with the wider community to see if it is a ‘runner’. I for one welcome this approach, as it is the way it should be done, and if there is no support for it, there is no support for it and it falls.
In conclusion, I thank those of you who have taken the time to email me. Please ensure you complete the online survey if you have not already done so.
Dr Andrew Charles
Old Stranmillis (Road) Residents’ Association