‘Urgent action required to avert another tragedy’

Land adjacent to Hoy's Meadow. INPT46-232.
Land adjacent to Hoy's Meadow. INPT46-232.

A ‘tragedy waiting to happen’ is how concerned councillors have described a drink and drugs hotspot in Portadown.

Upwards of 40 young people have been gathering every Saturday close to Hoy’s Meadow in Edenderry, amid major safety concerns.

DUP councillor Louise Templeton said young people were not only consuming large quantities of drink and drugs but also endangering their lives by climbing onto bridges close to the water.

She and party colleague Darryn Causby are calling for an urgent multi-agency meeting to address the issues, after police raised concerns with them.

And on Friday, ABC Council chief executive Roger Wilson went down to the area, close to the Bann River and the Northway, to see the scale of the danger for himself.

Part of the site is owned by the council and part is in private ownership.

Councillor Templeton said, “We must work together to ensure it is made safe so we are not faced with another tragedy in our town.”

In May, Caitlin White Shortland (15) died after collapsing at woodland in Corcrain in what is suspected to be a drugs-related incident.

Cllr Causby said, “The PSNI are monitoring the site and have taken children home under the influence of drink and drugs.

“Therefore, we appeal to parents to make sure that they know exactly where their children are, especially at weekends.

“We make a further appeal to young people to think about the dangers of this area as it sits on the riverside.”

A spokesperson for ABC Council said it is aware that young people continue to gather on the site and will be taking action with a range of stakeholders.

Sergeant Barbara McNally said police regularly patrol the Hoy’s Meadow and Foundry Street area.

She said, “We also have concerns about the safety of these young people who can access the River Bann and the Northway Road nearby.

“Meetings with such partner agencies are ongoing as a direct result of our growing concern about this behaviour. We have also spoken with local off-licences to remind them of their responsibilities in selling alcohol to young people.

“We have been disappointed to see the same youths we have brought home earlier in the day in an intoxicated state, back out that evening.”

They have appealed for concerned residents to contact police on 101.