Renewed calls for action over Melvin vandalism

Renewed calls for action over Melvin vandalism

Melvin Arena, Strabane.

Ciara Maguire

Reporter:

Ciara Maguire

Email:

ciara.maguire@strabaneweekly.co.uk

THERE are renewed calls for CCTV cameras to be erected on the grounds of the new Melvin Arena following the latest act of vandalism.
The sporting facility has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour since opening and last week, it was reported that youths who had congregated on the Ballycolman site were setting items on the grounds alight, including a downpipe.
Independent councillor, Raymond Barr, says it's now time for council to consider extending its current CCTV at the adjacent Melvin Sports Complex to encompass the stadium.
"There has been continuous vandalism at this facility," he said. "It's been going on since the Arena opened.
"They (young people) have been going in and having parties in there in the stand and it was only a matter of time before there was some damage done.
"This time, a downpipe was burn't and a plastic grating. If that downpipe had have been connected to something else that was flammable, it could have been much worse."
Councillor Barr has warned that unless council takes decisive action, the behaviour could escalate and significant damage could be caused to the facility.
"There is CCTV covering the greater Melvin area of the all-weather pitches, and it needs to be extended over to the Arena now," he continued.
"There needs to be a bit more investment from council. CCTV would be a deterrent.
"If people think they will be caught on camera, they won't enter the site."
While the facility is locked and council had undertaken additional security measures following repeated vandalism last year, entry is still being gained to the site.
Councillor Barr said the youths are "are still able to climb over where the turnstiles are" while it's also been claimed that a gate close to the pedestrian bridge is also being used as an entry point.
"Sometimes they are just in there with a ball playing football, but a lot of the time the older ones are definitely using it for partying," the Strabane councillor said.
"The worry is that unless action is taken to address this ongoing issue, that much more damage could be caused.
"It's a facility that was long sought after and it has given the town a large football stadium to be proud of. This vandalism needs to stop. Unfortunately, a minority just seem to be intent on wrecking it.
"Some young people seem to be determined to deprive their fellow youth of enjoyment and at the same time torture the residents of Ballycolman."

With plans to employ two new Community Safety Wardens to cover the Strabane town area, councillor Barr is hopeful they will provide particular attention to the area.
"It will be a job for them to pay extra attention to that area, especially now coming into the better weather," he added.

"But the CCTV must be extended to this area from Melvin."

It's not the first time the Strabane sporting facility has been targeted.
In October last year, significant damage was caused when vandals targeted the gates and turnstiles at the site with the locking mechanisms damaged, and seats within the stand also broken.
The facility boasts a 200-seater covered spectator stand, changing facilities, entrance booths, turnstiles and toilet provision.
Unveiled during the summer, the £1.15m project - the home ground of Strabane Athletic - was heralded as a major boost for the future of footballing provision locally as it met IFA Intermediate Premiership standards.

In response to last year's damage, Derry City and Strabane District Council said it had enhanced security around the site but, according to local residents they are still being "tortured" on a regular basis by youths accessing the site and playing loud music.
Asked this week if it will now consider installing CCTV cameras as an additional measure in response to the latest vandalism, a spokesperson for council confirmed that there have been issues with anti-social behaviour at the site and "a number of measures are currently being considered to step up security at the site".
She added: "We would like to appeal to parents in the area to please remind their children that our leisure facilities are there for everyone, and vandalism and anti-social behaviour are crimes that affect the entire community.
"We will continue to work with the PSNI to tackle the issue and anyone trespassing on council property or engaging in vandalism should remember that this is criminal behaviour and perpetrators will face prosecution."

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