Heartless vandals target ‘local asset’

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Community and political representatives have reacted angrily after the latest anti-social incident at a local leisure facility.

The popular pirate ship play area at Marine Gardens was targeted at the weekend, with the cost of repair bills estimated to be hundreds of pounds.

Condemning the incident, Cllr James Brown MBE has questioned the police provision in the town.

The Independent representative said: “This latest incident is a disgrace. Four pieces of equipment have been smashed in the park. The steering wheel has been pulled out of the ship, a panel valued at £400 has been kicked out, the toddler area has been vandalised and parts of the slide have been kicked out. It is the ratepayers who will end up being punished because of this anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Brown added: “Pensioners living close to the park are fed up with these type of incidents. There are limited police resources in the area, with the present policy of operating Carrick from Larne meaning that the town is not covered adequately. It is the responsibility for parents to know where their children are. The elderly and disabled residents of Scotch Quarter shouldn’t be subjected to this behaviour.”

Cllr Lindsay Millar has described the latest incident as “deeply frustrating”. The UUP representative said: “It’s a real shame that some individuals are intent on vandalising one of the greatest assets in our town. Families travel from across Co Antrim and further to visit the park, and to date around £5,000 of ratepayers’ money has been spent on repairs due to a small number of individuals causing senseless damage. It is deeply frustrating to see that repair work needs to be carried out again.”

Stewart Dickson, MLA, is urging anyone with information about the incident to contact the PSNI. The Alliance representative said: “It really is time that Mid and East Antrim Council accept that the regular damage being caused to this wonderful facility, by totally irresponsible individuals, will not go away until there are appropriate apprehensions of and sanctions applied to the perpetrators.

“Once that is accepted meaningful measures must be put in place, such as quality passive CCTV cameras. In the mean time I urge anyone who has any information on who caused the mindless damage to the Marine Gardens to get in touch with the PSNI.”

Cllr Noel Jordan has been left disgusted following this latest act of vandalism at the popular seafront location.

The UKIP representative said: “I am absolutely disgusted by this latest incident. This park is a first class, quality play area for the borough and it is disgusting that people are intent on destroying something which is so beneficial for a lot of families.

“This is not the first incident at the park. We don’t want to see it being locked up to the public. I would appeal to the people behind the attacks that anti-social attacks like this only harm the image of the town and you are destroying your own area. I would urge anyone with information to report it to the police.”

PUP representative, Jim McCaw campaigned to have CCTV introduced at the facility after previous attacks. He said: “It is once again annoying to hear that damage has been caused to the park. I hope that prosecutions can be made following this latest incident. Parents need to know where their children are at evenings and weekends.

“By causing this damage to the play park, these people are harming their own community and depriving the children of a great asset in the area. I would call on the PSNI to put more effort into visual patrols in the area of the Marine Gardens and the town centre.”

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council confirmed that the incident is being investigated. The spokesperson confirmed that four pieces of equipment had been damaged, but said it was too early to estimate the cost of the repairs as investigations are still in progress.

The spokesperson added: “Council will be working with the PSNI on this matter, to include sharing any appropriate CCTV images that may help in their investigations.”