Council slammed over lack of play area

Tommy Sheridan at the makeshift swings at Drumbeg, Craigavon
Tommy Sheridan at the makeshift swings at Drumbeg, Craigavon

Residents in two of the most deprived housing estates in Craigavon have lambasted the local council for not providing a play park.

Drumbeg and Meadowbrook have been lobbying for a play area for many years but have been told there is no funding.

Tommy Sheridan of the Drumbeg Community Association said there are around 400 homes in both estates, most of which have children.

And now local children have resorted to putting up makeshift swings with some rope and wood and an old tyre over some trees in a muddy patch in the Drumbeg estate.

Community worker Mr Sheridan said: “This is a shame and disgrace. There are hundreds of kids between these two estates and no place to play. We had earmarked the perfect site for a new play area between the two estates. We applied for funding from the Neighbourhood Renewal Scheme but we were turned down. They said they had no funds.

“These estates are made up of mainly family homes and it is important our children have a play area,” he said.

Mr Sheridan said that in talks with the Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council, they were told that the play park in Pinebank was nearby.

However he said that the road to the park from Drumbeg is fraught with danger.

“Most of the kids would walk through Tullygally shops to get to Pinebank and it is too dangerous because of anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“I think we’re being left behind by all statutory bodies. Look at the place. It’s still stuck in the seventies. An ECM scheme (for new doors and fences etc) was to have started about two years ago by NIHE but still nothing has been done.

“I just think it’s so unfair to the people of this area,” said Mr Sheridan.

A spokesperson for Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “An Expression of Interest was submitted to the Department for Communities’ Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, for the installation of a Play Park within the Drumbeg, Meadowbrook, Parkmore and Moyraverty areas.

“Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council agreed to take this forward subject to external funding being received.

“We understand that the Department for Communities is still considering this Expression of Interest and it should be noted that their Neighbourhood Renewal Programme and other grant funding is pending budget confirmation.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said: “The Department’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund for the current year has already been fully allocated. The budget allocation for Neighbourhood Renewal for next year (2018/19) will be decided upon by incoming Ministers.