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Vandalised Newry play park reopens five months later after kids go back to school

Loanda Park in Newry

A council’s delayed reaction to repair a vandalised Newry park has been criticised after children were shut out from a playground over the school summer holidays.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) had closed the Martin’s Lane park at the Loanda estate from early May, due to an arson attack on trampoline equipment.

However, following a query by the Local Democracy Service, the council has promptly carried out over £4,000 repairs and reopened the playground this week some five months later.

Newry Sinn Fein rep, Aidan Mathers said: “I am delighted that Loanda play park is finally fixed after all this time.

“Though, I am very disappointed to say the least that it took all this length of time to fix what is a relatively small issue.

“I know it is a health and safety issue, the actual trampoline was burnt and was left in a dangerous state.

“However, I can’t for the life of me understand why this section of the park couldn’t be closed off and the remainder of the park allowed to be open for the children of this area.

“This is quite a built up area and for the school summer holidays, the children had nowhere to play.

“So, looking forward I’d hope that there is no repetition of this, firstly in terms of the anti-social element and for the council to be more pro-active in its response in the future to deal with such vandalism.”

An initial council response earlier this month had stated that the park would be reopen on September 15, though this failed to happen.

In a follow up, a NMDDC spokesperson said: “The play park at Martin’s Lane has been closed since 8 May due to vandalism of the trampoline.

“Further vandalism was carried out to the barriers that were placed around the trampoline while it was waiting to be replaced. The park was therefore left unsafe for users.

“The delay in reopening the play park is due to the delivery time and installation of the new trampoline.

“To replace and install the new trampoline will cost approximately £4,200.

“This work is due to be carried out week commencing 18 September and the park will reopen as soon as the work has been completed.”

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