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Call for action at anti-social behaviour hotspot

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Call for action at anti-social behaviour hotspot thumbnailCouncillor Patsy Kelly at the scene of where bins were set alight behind shops on Castle Street, Strabane, at the weekend.

A STRABANE councillor has called for the installation of gates at an anti-social behaviour hotspot in the town centre.

For several months now, independent councillor, Patsy Kelly, has been calling on the council's Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to fund the erection of gates to the alleyway running from John Wesley Street to Castle Street.

He says the measure is needed to protect businesses from youths who are congregating at weekends and causing damage.

In the most recent incident, bins were set alight behind shops on Castle Street on Saturday night causing damage to air conditioning/ventilation systems.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday), Cllr Kelly said: "There has been an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area in recent months. Business owners are very concerned that it could escalate following this recent incident.

"I am now calling on council to take action as soon as possible and to have these gates installed. I realise that there are procedures to follow but it's now time for action. Are we really going to wait until serious damage is caused or someone is hurt?

"The arson to the bins could have easily spread and caught fire to the buildings themselves. Thankfully that wasn't the case but next time it might not be so lucky."

Cllr Kelly said local business owners in the area, who have suffered damage, have already given a commitment to opening and locking the gates.

"I have been been shouting about this at council for months. It's basically to protect shopkeepers and to try to put a stop to the anti-social behaviour and drinking that goes on in the area from Thursday through to the weekend. It is a huge problem.

"This is about protecting property and also people at night. If these gates were installed shopkeepers are prepared to open and close them. We should be addressing things that are happening in our town centres and we should be protecting our businesses and ratepayers out there.

"The CCTV (in the town centre) - when it comes - would be a great deterrent and would also help solve the issues. It has been very effective in Derry," he added.

Police have also agreed to up patrols in the area in a bid to deter youths from congregating there. "I've also been on with police to have extra patrols put in and they have given a commitment to doing that.

"They have told me that they will police the area especially over the weekends and I hope that that is the case consistently rather than just being a token gesture.

"For me, getting the gates on both ends would solve the problem. Businesses wouldn't be vandalised and people will feel safe walking around all the parts of the town," the Strabane councillor said.

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