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Casting light on walkway issues

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Casting light on walkway issues thumbnailThe Riverwalk was described as becoming a no-go zone for walkers.

THE Riverwalk in Banbridge is to be lit up at a cost of over 200,000.

The popular leisure spot has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour in recent years and in an effort to curb the problem, the council has decided to install street lights.

It was estimated back in February that the cost of installing the street lighting along the length of the walk would cost 140,000 plus VAT.

However at this month's leisure meeting, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough councillors were told the cost has gone up. There is now a revised cost of 200,000 plus VAT for the street lights, after a mechanical and electrical consultant was appointed.

The issue of anti-social behaviour came to light last year when teenagers were found in the area and their condition described as "semi-conscious and under the influence of alcohol".

During one incident the PSNI received a report of a young female who was semi-conscious on the towpath. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service attended and provided treatment for the girl.

Following this the PSNI told council that the lack of street lighting along the route was a "major contributory" factor to these incidents.

They acknowledged there were community safety wardens who regularly walk the route as well as PSNI personnel. However, the lack of lights has been said to "severely limit their effectiveness to carry out their respective roles at a time when levels of anti-social behaviour are regrettably increasing".

The council previously said these anti-social activities and the lack of lights were creating a no-go zone for people living in the area who want to walk or jog along the path.

The street lighting is set to be installed along the 0.53mile route, subject to the securing of the additional funding in the council's capital programme.

Councillors were told that the lighting system is suitable for locations with a bat population and that consideration will have to be given in their budget setting process and the capital programme to increase the budget of 200,000 to accommodate this revised estimate.

PSNI Inspector Duncan McBain believes that this will "discourage people from gathering in this area and causing a nuisance for local residents".

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