Workmen abused while they repaired playpark

Workmen abused while they repaired playpark

11 July 2018

CHILDREN as young as 10 pelted contractors with stones and verbally abused them as they tried to repair play equipment at the Model Farm estate in Downpatrick, it has emerged.

The incident came just a matter of days after a series of deliberate gorse fires in the area, one of which was so intense that it took eight fire crews battle to bring the blaze under control.

The contractors were appointed by Newry, Mourne and Down Council to carry out repairs which included removing paint from the surface of a slide and repairing floor tiles designed to cushion falls.

Cllr Gareth Sharvin said it was his understanding that children believed to be aged between 10 and 12 years old hurled abuse at the workers while on Thursday of last week,.

“Following discussions with the local authority, I requested for the damaged equipment and play area to be restored,” he explained. “The play park had become unusable for children and it was a priority to restore for everyone to enjoy.”

Cllr Sharvin said he was “extremely disappointed” that workers were verbally abused and had a hole cut in their hose pipe.

“A stand pipe was also broken and in addition to throwing stones at the contractors, the youths threw biscuits and yogurts were thrown,” he said.

Cllr Sharvin revealed that while a number of adults attempted to chased the young boys away to allow the contractors to complete the repairs, this proved unsuccessful. 

“The contractors were not able to do all they wanted, but enough was done to make the play area safe and useable,” he said.

Cllr Sharvin added: “This behaviour is totally unacceptable. Workmen were willing to make the play park safe again for everyone in the community and a small minority of young people were intent on ruining that.”

A council spokesman confirmed repairs to play equipment have been completed at the Model Farm play park following recent acts of vandalism.

He added: “The organisation has also reported the damage as an act of vandalism to the PSNI.”

News of the incident came just days after it was revealed that a new community group had been formed to kick start the social regeneration of the Model Farm housing estate and raise the profile of the area.

Formed in a direct response to ongoing anti-social behaviour, those behind the group are determined to be the voice of the people who live at the estate and have a number of exciting plans in the pipeline for the future.

The new group has also appealed to parents to warn children about the dangers and potential consequences of starting fires and hopes ownership of the field where a number of whins have been set on fire on a number of occasions can be established and the undergrowth removed.

Community group officials say they want everyone in the estate to move forward together and for everyone’s voice to be heard.