A NUMBER of Dromore parents have spoken out in support of the district council’s ‘Fairview Park’ play area development after an associated access point came under fire from Laganvale residents in recent weeks.
Protesters fear plans, as part of the playpark works, to formally open up an artificial access point from nearby Lynn Avenue, with steps leading down into Laganvale, will trigger an escalation in anti-social behaviour and heighten the risk of child abduction.
On the other hand, some local parents are anxious to head off any threat the protests might pose to what one called, “this vital playpark”.
It emerged in recent weeks that the majority of Laganvale residents had signed a petition in protest at the plans to open up the originally unintended but longstanding access point.
“This is a hole in the hedge that was made by the young ones over time,” said Laganvale’s Mr. Brian Mulholland, who insisted the unofficial access had long facilitated anti-social behaviour, a situation that could only get worse, and offered “a clear run over Barban Hill” to anyone contemplating child abduction.
The council claimed “widespread support” for its £90,000-plus scheme, a spokesperson saying, “When the Council started redesigning the play area, it was evident that local people had been using a number of access points as through-routes for quite some time. Therefore, any future plan to improve accessibility to the play park would have to reflect the way the land is currently being used and also provide a safe access to the play area from all the surrounding houses.”
She added that the council had facilitated meetings with the police and community to consider how best to develop the site with a view to deterring anti-social behaviour.
Among those unreservedly backing the council development, one local mum contactd The Leader to say, “The kids are desperate for this play area; I would hate to think anything might put it at risk.”
Another parent said that when the council consulted local residents about the playpark plans there were few voices raised in protest.
“They asked people to call them if they had any comments on the plans,” she said, “and of all the local residents I spoke to at the time, only one or two had any objections; there was no mention of any of these concerns at the time.”
A third local said the apparently offending access point had been in use for decades and installing steps only served to make it safer.