EIGHT-year-old Joe Magee has started a campaign to clean up his play park in Magheralin which has been plagued with vandals and anti-social behaviour.
The primary school boy decided to take matters into his own hands and began a campaign to reclaim the park back for the kids.
Joe wrote to Craigavon Council pointing out the broken glass in the play area and that this was dangerous.
“You can also see that a lot of the play equipment is broken and needing fixed, cleaned or painted. There are also a lot of things that people can trip on. There is a big bush of nettles near the gate that would really hurt you if your ball went into it,” said Joe.
“Very few of my friends play there because they think it is not a safe or a fun place to play, I would like to have somewhere we could all play and have fun together. They all think a bike track would be great.”
Joe’s mum Jayne said the park didn’t have a good reputation and appeared to be a magnet for youths drinking and getting up to no good.
She said: “Joe’s age group didn’t want to go to the park as it wasn’t safe.”
Ulster Unionist Cllr Colin McCusker met with Joe and his mum with Craigavon Council Parks Manager Russell Eastwood on Friday.
Mr Eastwood explained that the Council, which is responsible for the park, has had to deal with the aftermath of anti-social behaviour on a weekly basis.
“The Council inspects the park once a week and it’s not uncommon to brush up broken glass,” he said.
And he revealed that one minor had cut themselves on glass over the past year and had to be taken to casualty.
He also said safety tiles at the swings and play equipment had been ripped up and had to be replaced.
Mr Eastwood also said a problem for the Council is that anti-social behaviour in this area was not being reported to the police. However it was clear the park was being used as an illegal drinking area.
He said while the Council is duty bound to inspect and clean up the area, it was incumbent on the local community to take ownership of the park.
Joe told Cllr McCusker and Mr Eastwood people had been trying to burn stuff in the park in cans. “I think this is dangerous,” he told the Mail.
And he called for a bike trail and a skate board park for the area.
He pointed out a thicket of brambles and trees which he said was dangerous.
Mr Eastwood explained that they would look at all these options. However he pointed out there was a limited budget for any major work.
Cllr McCusker said he was very impressed with Joe and his enthusiasm for the park.
“I was very impressed that a young boy of Joe’s age took the time to highlight the troubles of the park.
“I will be looking to be able to deliver some of what Joe has asked for. It’s not always easy but it would be great to have the community behind him,” said Cllr McCusker.