Ratepayers £5k bill for constant vandalism at Co Armagh park

Sinks at the toilets in Portadown's People's Park regularly vandalised say Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council
Sinks at the toilets in Portadown's People's Park regularly vandalised say Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council

Repeated vandalism to public toilets at Portadown’s People’s Park has cost almost £5k to repair.

Sinks have been pulled from the walls of the toilets and, according to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, it is ‘ongoing and regular occurring’ vandalism.

The total cost of maintenance as a result of ongoing sink damage in the last year is £936 in labour costs, £3,900 in parts, resulting in a repair bill of £4,836.

Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Duffy condemning the vandalism said: “We have not spent £5.5 million for this park to be taken over by drunkards and anti-social behaviour. It’s just not going to happen.”

He called on a ‘major clampdown’ on this behaviour adding: “There needs to be prosecutions or fines for drinking in public areas.

“There was only one toilet open and that was to accommodate everyone. They were also setting toilet paper on fire.”

He said he had brought up the level of anti-social behaviour in the park with the PCSP, the police, the park manager and council officers and is hoping to set up a meeting next week to discuss issues.

Cllr Duffy said drinking and anti-social behaviour are the biggest issues.

DUP Cllr Darryn Causby said: “For a start it is criminal damage. This is public property that has been destroyed and someone else has to pay for.

“Obviously there was significant investment in the park several years ago and we were told that there were mechanisms in place to prevent some of these issues raising their head again.

“Whilst I am condemning the behaviour and the damage, I am also wondering how it has been allowed to happen in the first place.

“That park is covered by a serious amount of CCTV. We were told at the time that there would be things in place to prevent the likes of anti-social behaviour recurring. I would have expected that to have been effective given the amount of money that was invested.

“We are supposed to have staff employed at the park. We do know several months ago that one of the security guards at the park was violently assaulted.

“There is also a responsibility on the PSNI that, where possible, the area is covered appropriately with patrols and that the council is making sure that those who are working in the park have adequate safe-guards in place for their own safety.

“It is a sinister situation given that this is not an isolated incident. There appears to be a pattern of criminality encroaching in that area which is putting everybody off from using the park, not just one section of the community or the other.”

DUP Cllr Lavelle McIlwrath said: “I’m hugely disappointed to learn that damage running to thousands of pounds has been caused to sinks at the facilities in the Peoples Park in Portadown. This incident of wanton criminal damage and anti- social behaviour is something that the various Council departments and agencies within the Borough have been trying to stamp out.

“I know from a personal perspective that the local Policing partnership has devoted much time and energy to help combat this type of activity in the Peoples Park and it is so disheartening to think that there are still those intent on causing this type of damage.

“I appeal to anyone with information in relation to this act of criminal damage to contact the PSNI immediately.”