Residents call for play area to be re-opened for summer

Dorothy Johnston pictured at the play area in Riverside, Castledawson.
Dorothy Johnston pictured at the play area in Riverside, Castledawson.

Residents in Castledawson have hit out at the authorities for failing to open a play area in the village which has remained closed for two years.

A petition has been launched to raise parents concerns and will be available soon to sign in local businesses.

Dorothy Johnston, a grandmother of two, who lives in the Riverside area claimed it was “discrimination against the children of Castledawson.”

She blamed the NI Housing Executive and Mid Ulster District Council and accused them of “stonewalling” residents.

It is understood that the ownership of the land on which the play area is situated is currently transferring from the Housing Executive to the Council.

“A lot of children are going down to the banks of the river (Moyola) to play and it’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” she said.

“It is coming up to the summer holidays and they have nowhere to play.

“That’s why we want the play area re-opened. It’s easier for parents to control their children when they are in the play area.”

The play area is behind Riverside House and was opened in 2008 before being closed just over two years ago.

Mrs Johnston reckons there are about 200 children on the estate, as well as two play schools and two primary schools which could be making use of the facility.

“There’s the football pitch but that can’t be used for children because of the dog poo,” she continued.

She said there was a play area at the other end of the village but it was too far away for young children.

“We have been battling with the Housing Executive and the Council to get this play area re-opened for over two years,” she went on.

“The wooden fencing was broken down about six weeks ago and it has now been wired off completely.”

DUP MLA Keith Buchanan said his office has been working closely with residents in Riverside since March 24 2017 to resolve the problem with the Council and Housing Executive. He said it was “disappointing” that there has been such a long delay in completing something as simple as a land transfer. He expressed the hope progress would soon be made.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said the play area was not on their property.

But a Mid Ulster Council spokesperson said: “This park is currently in the process of being transferred from the Housing Executive to the Council and will be re-opened by the Council when the transfer is complete.”