A REGULAR user of Ballymena’s historic People’s Park – which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year – has hit out at ‘shameful’ scenes as bins were left over-flowing at the popular attraction.
Bernie Keenan contacted ‘Ballymena Daily’ to tell of her shock that bins crammed full of rubbish and dog poo were left unemptied and broken bottles and litter was allowed to build-up around the park.
And she allowed us access to her photos of the unsightly scenes.
Other members of the public joined Bernie in a chorus of criticism when she shared the pictures on social media.
Now, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council – which runs the park – has admitted to ‘Ballymena Daily’ that “unfortunately”, due to an “operational issue,” bins had not been emptied.
Bernie Keenan wrote on social media: “Shame. 150 yr anniversary of People’s Park, completely neglected.”
She added: “I’m in the park regularly & I’ve never seen the park as run down as it is at present.
“Ballymena Council going to spend thousands of the tax payers money, as the park is open 150 years , this year. What a joke!
“Litter, broken bottles, dog poo bins now going into second week of not being emptied,constant vandalism.
“There used to be a team of 3-4 park rangers full time, a part time cleaner for the toilets, pavilion, a man doing the grass areas, blowing leaves etc,” said Bernie.
There was swift reaction on social media with one person saying the rubbish “would put you off” going to the park.
Another person said it was a “disgrace, never saw it as bad”.
Bernie responded: “Its like that all the time now, dozens of council workers out on furlough, think they could bring some of them in to keep the park clean.”
Another person said: “That’s a disgrace. Nobody would want their kids going into that. No need for it”.
A woman said: “Awful, any wonder wasps are everywhere in there”.
Another comment was: “It’s awful. Lots of underage drinking and gatherings. Screaming and shouting and fighting! Rubbish and broken glass everywhere! An absolute disgrace to how it used to be.”
Bernie responded to that comment by remarking: “100%, every night & not a thing done about it, adults are not allowed to drink in public places, but there is underage drinking & vandalism every night in the park & not 1 thing ever done about it.”
Another person hit out: “Absolutely disgraceful, that’s the reason I wouldn’t take my grand kids.”
Bernie added: “Left the park at 8.00, there is already 15 – 20 teenagers in it, with their drink & ghetto blaster throwing their litter everywhere.”
A response to that comment from one person was: “Absolutely no respect for anyone else in the park. Think I’ve seen the police once. They need to sort it out and get the place cleaned up!”
Another comment was: “The People’s Park will not be winning any awards this year!!! BRING BACK THE PARK RANGERS!!!”
A woman said: “How times have changed. Young people don’t care anymore. Its a shame. Any wonder I don’t take my wee dog for walks in the park. BRING BACK THE PARK RANGERS. THAT’S WHAT I SAY.”
A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “All bins in the People’s Park in Ballymena have been emptied and rubbish collected by our Parks Team.
“Unfortunately, due to an operational issue on the afternoon of Saturday, 5 September, the service was not carried out as normal.
“Council are committed to providing first-class parks and open spaces to our citizens across Mid and East Antrim.
“Work is due to commence at the end of this month on a new play park for the award-winning People’s Park, while construction on a new Teen Space Area has been scheduled to get underway from the beginning of 2021. This represents a total investment of over £0.5 million.
“Council is also working with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to identify any potential sources of grant funding for additional enhancements such as toilets, changing facilities, lighting and seating.”