LISBURN Councillors have expressed their annoyance after representatives from the PSNI failed to attend a meeting arranged last month to discuss the ongoing anti-social behaviour at the Grove Activity Centre and at Mount Eagles.
However, the police said they were contacted by the council following the meeting, who apologised and said that the invite had been sent to the wrong email address.
The issue was raised at the Leisure Services Committee meeting earlier this month by Deputy Mayor, Alderman Paul Porter.
He asked: Have we arranged another meeting? It was a senior officer we wanted to meet, not just about Lisburn but also Dunmurry. I propose we write again and demand this meeting."
Concerns have been raised in recently months with regards to the anti-social behaviour taking place at the Grove Activity Centre, which has led to the council having to spend £500 each week on security to protect staff at the facility. Meanwhile in Mount Eagles, the play area and a pathway in the area has been the scene of anti-social behaviour, with underage drinking and vandalism.
A number of actions were agreed at the meeting, including getting an update on the Ngage project and meeting with [representatives of the Lisburn
Community Safety Partnership. However, Councillor Jenny Palmer said she was "disappointed there was nothing positive came out of the meeting in terms of progress."
Councillor Palmer added: "I was quite annoyed the PSNI didn't turn up at the meeting."
Councillor Thomas Beckett then asked if there was any reason the PSNI didn't turn up. Robert McKnight, the Assistant Director of Leisure Services, told him that "ten dates had been floated for the meeting. We thought we had confirmed but the PSNI said they didn't get the email."
Councillor David Archer, the Chairman of the Leisure Services Committee said that "the blame does not lie with this council," for the PSNI not attending, with each of the other parties invited having attended.
However, a PSNI spokesperson said afterwards: "Sergeant Algie, the Neighbourhood Sergeant for the area and Inspector Rowland, the Sector Inspector weren't invited to that meeting. We have no details of the meeting." He continued: "Because of ongoing problems in the area we have been to every meeting with the council and we have been working with the Ngage project and Eventsec. We have limited resources but when we can we do send someone in to have a look around.
"This was just a breakdown in communication. We received news from the council a couple of days after the meeting that the council had sent an email to the wrong email address."
He added: "We have no reason not to attend a meeting, we want to be working with people to resolve these problems."
However, speaking at the council meeting, Alderman Edwin Poots stated: "I will reiterate what I said before. It is wholly unacceptable this council has to pay out thousands of pounds for protection for its staff from hoods. I want to have a meeting with a senior police officer and identify to him this is not an acceptable situation and to allow this council to provide a service to the public and the police to provide a service to the public and deal with anti-social behaviour.
"It is not our responsibility to protect our staff and property," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org