Vandals costing council €60k to fix playgrounds

by Sylvia Pownall

FINGAL County Council forks out €60,000 every year to repair damage to playgrounds caused by vandals, it has emerged.

The local authority has 39 children’s play areas under its management – and some of them are costing up to €2,000 a year to maintain as a direct result of vandalism.

A council spokesman told The Gazette: “The annual spend on repairs is in the region of €60,000.

“Apart from the expense, the biggest nuisance is time spent by staff making the area safe, and the time that the equipment is unavailable for use.”

Just last month, Cllr Ken Farrell (Lab) warned that anti-social behaviour and vandalism at the playground in Moylaragh estate, Balbriggan was getting out of hand.

However, the council insisted that taking drastic security measures which would effectively turn the playground “into a fortress” were not the answer.

A council report on the Moylaragh issue stated: “The operations department is very aware of the nuisance that the anti-social activities are causing.

“The issues are largely public order and very difficult for a local authority to influence.”

Teenagers are thought to be responsible for most of the damage – with reports of up to eight youths using a single piece of playground equipment at the same time.

According to council records on the wider issue of playground damage, in some instances replacement swing sets have been broken within weeks of being installed.

Just last week, a playground at St Anne’s in Portmarnock was defaced with obscene graffiti – another all-too-common problem – and safety matting was deliberately set on fire.

A council spokesman said some of the money spent on playgrounds was due to “normal wear and tear” but admitted vandalism was a costly nuisance.

In recent years the local authority has provided a number of multi-use game areas for older youths, as well as locating a number of playgrounds outside housing estates – both seen as positive steps in deterring vandals.

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