Cllr Billy Walker has spoken out following the damage to pedestrian traffic lights recently installed in Killyleagh.
“The people doing this constant damage in Killyleagh need to wise up.” These were the angry words from Rowallene Councillor Billy Walker after a control panel on the lights was smashed just a short time after the installation on Downpatrick Street near the Cross at the centre of the town.
“I’ve lobbied for 12 years to have lights installed here. Traffic has always came through the town very fast and there have been a few very near misses. I was heartened when we finally got the green light for the new pedestrian crossing.
“But after many incidents of anti-social behaviour in Killyleagh over recent years, we now see these lights being targeted. It is just a total disgrace. Someone must know who is doing this.
“This sort of behaviour is simply putting lives at risk and it needs to stop… now!”
In listing the many acts of vandalism in recent years, Cllr Walker said that public toilets had been destroyed by fire, a pub, a manse and a pigeon loft gutted, the old British Legion building was almost set alight, and other incidents. This is costing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and added: “All the taxpayers and ratepayers – which includes many of their parents – have to cough up for this wanton destruction.
“And there is constant anti-social behaviour around the Bridge Centre. All our communities in the district including Killyleagh have had a tough time coming through the Covid-19 epidemic.
“I feel for the elderly who can’t get to sleep around Braeside Gardens and that area of the town because of unruly behaviour. Something needs to be done to sort this out. It just raises anxiety levels all round.
“I will be addressing this at the next Down Policing Community and Social Partnership (PCSP) meeting soon and hope I get support for a solution to this problem.
“There is CCTV in the town and we must find out if it is monitoring during these times of vandalism late at night especially. It could go a long way to providing a solution.” Down News understands that Newry Mourne and Down District Council are currently considering an overall review of CCTV services across the council district and at the last Strategy Policy and Resources Committee Meeting on 12/08/2021, there was an in-committee item on the agenda to appoint a Consultant for the purposes of the business case development for the upgrade of the Council’s Public Space & Facilities CCTV Systems.
Cllr Walker added that he was also concerned at many parents of children he said as young as 14 years old being involved and taking alcohol late at night and into the small hours of the morning.
He said: “Parents too need to take responsibility. They need to step up to the mark and should be asking where their youngsters are at these unsocial hours.
“Myself and other councillors and community activists try continually to make Killleagh a better place to live in. All these efforts are very positive. But it just takes a few to spoil the good work and peace of mind of many.
“As an elected representative I have to ask to myself why do I bother sometimes. But we cannot let these vandals get the upper hand.
“There have been many programmes run by the Education Authority, the Down PCSP, the DEA forums, the police, and other agencies. But much of this work is going over the heads of the persons that matter. It is not reaching those individuals actively engaged in these anti-social acts.
“But we don’t want a police presence every weekend. It is a drain on their resources too. Everyone needs to take responsibility especially parents.”