Council asked to light up car parks to end ASB

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

NEWRY, Mourne and Down District Council may spend 1,500 on LED lighting in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour (ASB) behind Warrenpoint Town Hall.

It comes following issues arising from a meeting of the council's Warrenpoint DEA forum, which heard calls for a wall to be removed.

A report to the council's Regulatory and Technical Services (RTS) Committee by the Assistant Director of Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism, Mr Colum Jackson, outlined the problems in the area close to two small Council operated public car parks, Kings Lane and East Street.

"The car park locus is reasonably concealed from the main thoroughfares within the town and offers an element of seclusion for congregating youths," his report read.

"Statistics collated and published by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) identified approximately 15-20 incidents of ASB in this general area throughout 2017. Additionally, there have been five incidents of ASB in this general area from Jan-March 2018.

"The precise location and exact nature of the incidents cannot be determined as collated data only makes reference to ASB and generalises the location as being in the vicinity of the car parks. Undoubtedly many instances go unreported, therefore it would be fair to assume that the figure should possibly be increased."

The presence of a "significant" concreted wall is identified as a possible contributing factor to the ASB. As such, Mr Jackson says he was asked to look into having the wall removed in order to alleviate the ASB.

A contractor quoted the council between 3,720 and 4,925 plus VAT in orer to do this.

"It is essential to have the perimeter of the car park demarcated by some type of boundary in order to prevent encroachment by vehicles onto pedestrian walkways," the report continues.

"If the wall was removed then the boundary line [back to back kerb line] could potentially create a trip hazard and [bollards] would simply provide seating on bollards as opposed to the wall.

"Furthermore I would have grave concerns that removing the wall could possibly encourage gathering youths to sit on the bonnets of cars parked in the car park, thus compounding the problem."

Research was also conducted into installing anti-sitting studs, but health and safety concerns were highlighted due to the potential of injury being caused.

Other factors to be taken into consideration included improvement works at Warrenpoint Municipal Park which are near completion, which could lead to the youths moving away from the car parks; the completion of a new apartment development at Kings Lane which would decrease the seclusion of the area and increase the likelihood of ASB being reported to the police, and the poor lighting in the car parks.

"It would be my intention to upgrade the existing lamps to LED lighting," said Mr Jackson.

"This action should significantly improve the quality and brightness of the lighting in the area, which again should help reduce/displace incidents of ASB, as offenders tend to gravitate to more dimly lit areas."

He added, "I do not believe that the removal of the wall is the solution to this ASB issue. The removal and associated civil work cost of around 4,000 would not guarantee resolution - indeed it could possibly introduce other problems."

Members of the RTS committee were asked to note the report and back the proposed course of action, installing LED lighting in the car parks, at a cost of 1,500, with the walls remaining in place.

A decision will be taken at the RTS committee's meeting, which is due to take place tomorrow (Wednesday).


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