North Down Alliance representatives have called upon Environment Minister Edwin Poots to take more action to address the range of problems occurring at Helen’s Bay beach, inviting him to visit the site to see first-hand the problems being endured by local residents.
North Down MP Stephen Farry, MLA Andrew Muir and party Councillors Gillian Greer and Martin McRandal said there had been a range of ongoing crime and anti-social behaviour issues in the area, with police and traffic wardens needed to deal with visitors flocking to local beaches.
“Whilst I accept people are keen to enjoy the outdoors, particularly in good weather, the situation local residents are now having to endure day and daily is beyond acceptable,” said Dr Farry.
“With the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs owners of the site, they have a particular responsibility in stepping up to deal with the myriad of issues being faced by local people, alongside the police and Department for Infrastructure, who are overseeing blatant and prolonged breaches of parking restrictions. A sustained and fully resourced response must occur without any more delay.”
“Whilst I am extremely grateful for the valiant attempts made to date by local police, country park management, traffic wardens and the local residents’ association, it is clear a much greater and better resourced focus needs to be given from both a Ministerial and senior police level if the circumstances being experienced by local residents is to be ended,” added Mr Muir.
“I have written to the Environment Minister outlining the issues and urging him to act, alongside an invite to visit the site and see the problems being experienced. With dozens of fires lit on the beach on Thursday night, evidence of alcohol, drugs, solvents and nitrous oxide capsules being consumed, people defecating and urinating in residents’ gardens plus extensive and prolonged noise keeping children and their parents awake, the need for action is clear. This is DAERA’s site. It’s about time they stepped up and did much more to deal with the problems arising from it.
“My colleague and Policing Board member John Blair MLA has also contacted the PSNI to request additional resources are deployed. I am also engaging with the Infrastructure Minister to request parking enforcement all week and throughout the day from early morning to late evening and Sundays. The current situation cannot continue.”
Councillor Gillian Greer stated: “Ards and North Down Borough Council also has a role via deployment of their anti-social behaviour team whom I am requesting provide a much more significant presence alongside deployment of CCTV and deployment of planters to stop parking infringements alongside the grass verge on Church Road, Helen’s Bay.”
Councillor Martin McRandal added: “Recent scenes have been really shocking, with people leaving the beach late at night making lots of noise and leaving large amounts of rubbish which has to be cleared up the next day. Safety is also a concern with lots of young people often consuming alcohol late at night in the dark. The embers of fires and broken glass often left behind are a hazard for other beach users. We need to see some regulation before an accident occurs.”