Children may be at risk in ‘dirty’ parks

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Children could be put at risk after Craigavon Council stopped cleaning up parks at the weekends, an employee has warned.

Parks littered with broken bottles and drugs paraphernalia have become the weekend norm, according to the council worker, but his claims are denied by the council.

He said: “Lurgan Park is the biggest and when we come in on a Monday morning at 7am there are still people drunk in the parks. Lurgan isn’t too bad as there are police patrols but Portadown parks are very bad.”

The worker claimed he has found drugs paraphernalia in parks including ‘buckets and lungs’ - terms used for an improvised water bong used to inhale cannabis and other drugs. He said he has also discovered bags which had clearly contained powder, probably drugs and sometimes bags filled with powder. He said ground maintenance staff often collect around 25 bin bags full of broken glass and litter each weekend. “Something is going to happen if they don’t clean the parks at the weekend. Some child is going to get hurt,” he warned.

A spokesperson for the council said it “rejects concerns over the presence of drugs and drug related materials in local parks”.

“In the last 12 months a new litter lifting schedule has been in operation which targets areas of high levels of footfall in the winter months, and there have been no reported findings of drugs, needles or related materials either by council staff or the public.

“The schedule is closely monitored as are our parks and open spaces.

“The council’s new litter regime was introduced as an efficiency measure and has proved successful with high levels (95 per cent) of public satisfaction reported in recent surveys. Furthermore if staff do come across drugs and drugs paraphernalia they are fully trained to deal with it and ensure a safe environment is maintained for the public and our staff. Indeed at weekends park keepers are on duty throughout the borough and deal immediately with problems that may arise.

“The people of Craigavon rightly have high expectations about the quality and safety of their public spaces and the council believes it delivers to those standards.”