The cash my father ‘wore’ may never be found due to council ban on metal detectors


Wakehurst Playing Fields, Ballymena
‘RE-ROOTED’ … Metal detectorists will not be allowed at Wakehurst Playing Fields.


CASH rather than ‘Sash’ has attracted metal detector-carrying individuals to some venues used for the traditional Twelfth of July demonstrations but now those hoping to be quids in this year, in Ballymena, will have to buzz off.

In the past detector enthusiasts have turned up to hunt for left-behind pound coins when the sound of the departing bands has barely faded.

The money-searchers know that many people like to relax by lying down in ‘The Field’ after a long day of marching and very often pound coins and the like slip out of pockets to nestle out of sight between blades of grass or be trampled into the ground.

And in some places like Ballymena metal detectorists have been known to sweep the Twelfth demonstration venues in the hunt for cash.

‘The Twelfth’ is being held at the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council-owned Wakehurst Playing Fields this year in the Harryville area of Ballymena.

However, those seeking ‘treasure’ of the more modern variety have been hit by a new council policy in Ballymena.

The policy generally bans the use of metal detectors at all its property.

One local said: “It is a bit of an unusual looking sight but metal detectors have been spotted after the parade in Ballymena before, at places like Ballee where ‘The Field’ always used to be.

“The Council has now brought in this new policy to help protect the type of archaeological treasures more normally associated with metal detection.

“It looks as if they don’t want real treasure-hunters potentially randomly digging up areas like football pitches at places like Wakehurst where hundreds of matches take place every year.

“It is unlikely councillors were even aware of the Twelfth of July money-hunters.

“These Twelfth of July searchers aren’t leaving gaping holes and are really just scraping the top soil for embedded cash if they do come across something.

“However, ‘The Twelfth’ cash searchers have now also been caught up under the terms of the policy, so if people are hunting for money this year after the parade they will have to do it without the aid of machines”.

In recent weeks Mid & East Antrim Borough Council introduced a new policy banning the use of metal detectors on their property.

Any proposal to undertake metal detecting on Council land will only be considered where the detecting is part of an “appropriate programme of research”.

A council spokesman confirmed the new policy was passed on June 4 and supplied a copy of the policy.

The policy says: “On occasion, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council receive requests for permission from individuals or organisations to carry out metal detecting on land owned, leased or managed by the Council.

“Councils across Northern Ireland have the power to ban metal detecting and other activities using byelaws. In the absence of any such byelaws or other specific restrictions on metal detecting on land owned, leased or managed by the Council, the use of metal detectors on such lands would be subject to our policy.

“In general, metal detecting on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council land, including land to which the public has right of access, is not permitted.

“Metal detecting is not normally authorised in areas consisting of closely mown and carefully cultivated turf and flower beds; play areas; dedicated sports areas; sites of archaeological, botanical or scientific interest; and allotments.

“Any proposal to undertake metal detecting on Council land will only be considered where the detecting is part of an appropriate programme of research. This is because the removal of an archaeological object from its context, unless carried out by a professional archaeologist can cause the loss of valuable contextual information, as well as damage to the artefact itself.

“Anybody wishing to carry out such research will need to apply for and obtain a permit from the Council’s Parks Management Team in order to use a metal detector as well as to undertake associated survey work on Council’s land”.

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