Plans to close a park in south Belfast’s university area at night have drawn mixed reactions.
According to city council plans, gates will be installed at the four entrances to Crescent Park, located between Botanic Avenue and University Road.
The green space behind Crescent Church would then be added to the council’s existing daily schedule of opening and closing gates for parks.
Campaign group Friends of the Crescent, which campaigned for the plans, said the gates would help tackle anti-social behavior and complaints of drug and alcohol abuse.
It offered to contribute £25,000 towards the estimated cost of the goals, with the council covering the remaining £30,412.
A council report said the group had received “unanimous support” from local residents and businesses – but some called for the park to remain open at night.
Two businessmen wrote to the council saying they were “concerned” that the plans would be considered without hearing other views.
David Gavaghan and Brendan Mulgrew said that after years of fighting for new lighting, the park was now “beautifully lit and brilliant” at night.
In a joint letter they said: “We will be strongly committed to Crescent Park leading the way on what can be done to ‘normalise’ park life in Belfast and move us into the 21st century by accepting what Size and greater normal is in most European cities.
“We understand there are problems with ASB (anti-social behaviour), but closing the parks will not make them disappear.
“Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for seeing in the glow of the lights who these people are.”
They said that “with a little imagination and investment, the use of the park could be encouraged and improved.”
“Instead we are standing at the gate of the only decent ‘open’ park in Belfast, beautifully lit,” they added.
In a June 2021 document to councillors, Friends of the Crescent said the park regularly encountered anti-social behaviour, with people loitering, using drugs and drinking alcohol.
They added: “We understand that the targets alone will not guarantee a complete end to all anti-social behaviour, but the scale and frequency of this is now so serious that it is very clear that structural changes are needed before can be reduced to a level that can be managed by police and security patrols.”
The proposal was due to be discussed by the Council’s People and Municipalities Committee on Tuesday evening, but was taken off the agenda to allow for further consideration.
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Source: Bel Fast Live