Petition calls for CCTV at Marine Gardens

Fire damage at Marine Gardens play park. INCT 34-727-CON
Fire damage at Marine Gardens play park. INCT 34-727-CON

Over 400 people have signed a petition amid renewed calls for the installation of CCTV at Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus.

It follows an arson attack in the play area at the popular seafront location last Thursday night.

There was widespread condemnation among the local community over the incident, which saw youths set fire to a trampoline in the 
pirate-themed park.

Vandalism and anti-social behaviour have been recurring problems at the outdoor venue, which re-opened in 2012 following a £1.3 million regeneration scheme.

In 2013, several wooden panels were broken and graffiti daubed on the replica galleon ship at the centre of the children’s play zone. Some £10,000 worth of damage was caused the following year after vandals smashed decorative lighting at the war memorial.

In response to the latest incident, an online petition set up by members of Progressive Unionist Party in Carrickfergus is calling for the installation of CCTV at the location in order to deter criminals.

The installation and running of a CCTV system for any part of the borough would have significant resource implications

MEA Council

“Over the past few years equipment in the play park and Cenotaph at the Marine Gardens has been damaged numerous times, costing Council thousands of pounds in repairs and replacement. There have also been frequent complaints from local residents about antisocial behaviour there,” Carrick PUP representative Jim McCaw said.

“Due to its central location, Marine Gardens is also used by visitors to the town and cannot be missed by those driving through, having an impact on both tourism and potential investors in the area.

“For those reasons I call on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to install CCTV cameras in the area as a deterrent, as has been done in many other parts of the UK with significant success.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “[We] work in close co-operation with the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour such as the arson attack at the Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus last weekend.

“The installation and running of a CCTV system for any part of the borough would have significant resource implications which would have to be approved by council on foot of a comprehensive business case being produced by officials.

“Council already has a number of mobile CCTV units which can be deployed as and when needed, but these too require significant resources to monitor their use.

“While this remains an option for discussion, MEA Borough Council and the PCSP would urge vigilance by local residents and ask they report any such activities to the PSNI as quickly as possible.”

The PCSP could also assist residents in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme for the area, the statement added.

The affected section of the play park is currently closed off until the equipment can be repaired, according to Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe. “We have ordered replacement parts in and as I understand it they will take a week or two to arrive,” he said.

“Staff are outraged that this fantastic facility has been targeted. I would encourage anyone with any information to cooperate fully with the PSNI.”

Meanwhile, East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson called for the installation of CCTV systems throughout the former Carrick and Larne council areas to match those in Ballymena.

“Once word gets round that evidence can be captured and criminals brought to book, this type of senseless wanton destruction would vastly reduce or be totally eliminated,” he added.

Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact police on the non emergency number 101.