Balbriggan teenagers have their say!

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

A consultation with local teenagers through the Our Balbriggan project has found that local youth want cycling lanes, public toilets, more seating and bins, better lighting and public spaces specifically for young people where they can hang out safely.

These were among the recommendations from a consultation with students from Ardgillan College, Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan Community College and Bremore Educate Together.

The event, hosted at the Bracken Court Hotel, revealed that while the students may not be up to date on the work of the Our Balbriggan (OB) Rejuvenation project or Fingal County Council’s work, particularly with regards to climate action, they were very engaged with what the town needs both for their age group and for the wider community.

Caroline Keane from the Our Balbriggan Rejuventation Project speaking to students from Balbriggan’s Loreto Secondary School who attended a consultation with local teenagers with the project at the Bracken Court Hotel on Thursday, April 28.

Aoife Sheridan, Senior Executive Officer with Fingal County Council, who facilitated the discussion, introduced it by saying that normally it was the students’ parents, community groups and businesses who are most likely to engage in consultative discussions and this was a great opportunity for the Council to hear the voice of the young people of the town.

She outlined the plans of OB Rejuvenation Project and gave them a preview of new designs for the Quay Street area, which met with approval from the students.

The students said that their favourite public open spaces in the town were the beach and Bell’s pitches, while their least favourite was the harbour, the area around the train station and some areas at night time, which felt unsafe.

The students identified opportunities to make the town more active for young people with a swimming pool, more study space in the library, public toilets, more seating and picnic areas, cycling lanes, pitch and putt and more playground equipment better dispersed around the town.

There was also a call for zebra crossing spots, more bins, phone charging and wifi facilities, while street lights in public spaces was a big safety issue for many.

Aoife Sheridan, Senior Executive Officer with Fingal County Council speaking to students from Bremore Educate Together at a consultation with local teenagers with the project at the Bracken Court Hotel on Thursday, April 28.

In terms of activities they would like to see in the town, the students suggested a gym just for teenagers, rock climbing/bouldering wall, an adventure centre, museum, arts facilities and more comfortable spots where they could sit and gather with their friends.

There was a strong sense from many that they were prevented from using public spaces and often moved on by authorities because of a mistaken perception that teenagers ‘are there to cause trouble’.

“You don’t feel safe – you always feel that you are being watched,” said one student.

One particular contribution was that Balbriggan has such a big population of teenagers that creating just one space for them is not enough and the students expressed a desire for a number of spaces dedicated for teenagers to use around the town to give them places of their own to go.

The students cited examples of good public facilities such as swimming pools, a variety of shops and restaurants and nightclubs in nearby areas such as Skerries, Donabate, Pavillions in Swords, Drogheda and Howth which they would like to see in Balbriggan.

Ms Sheridan warmly thanked the students for their enthusiastic engagement in the consultation, saying it had been really valuable for the Council staff to learn what was important to the young people in the town.

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