RESIDENTS of the Ballyspillane estate in Killarney have renewed their appeal to Kerry County Council to implement an anti-social behaviour policy that’s fit for purpose in the area.
They want long-promised CCTV cameras installed to monitor unacceptable behaviour, including illegal dumping and problems with horses and stray dogs wandering around the estate.
The residents have also asked for increased garda resources, an installation of an LED public lighting system and an upgrade of footpaths and parking facilities in the estate.
Concerns were also expressed about ongoing problems in derelict sites within the estate.
Representatives of the Ballyspillane Residents’ Association brought a second deputation in two years to a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council this Wednesday and pleaded for proactive support and a commitment to address serious issues raised. Chairman, David Foran, said this year marks the anniversary of the first residents moving into Ballyspillane where there are now 216 houses, around 35 per cent of which are rented from the council.
The residents said since the last town hall deputation in 2017, there have been many improvements and positive changes but there is still much more to do.
The whole community is becoming more and more frustrated and disillusioned with the system as it looks like there are no repercussions for those engaging in anti-social behaviour and it’s innocent neighbours who are more affected by the dangerous activities taking place,” Mr Foran told councillors.
“It is of the utmost priority that we are safe in our own homes. We have been asking for help for years from you and other agencies. The issues seem to have fallen on deaf ears and now we are at a stage where lives are at risk,” the residents’ association chairman claimed.
In addition to the installation of CCTV, improved street lighting and measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and illegal dumping, the residents have also asked that when the local authority is allocating houses, consideration should be given to the diverse social demographic profile that is already resident in the estate and be respectful of this.
“It’s important to highlight that the estate has its ups and downs but the sense of community is still alive and strong,” Mr Foran insisted.
Cllr Niall Kelleher, who arranged the deputation, said the residents keep on highlighting the issues and challenges they face and it’s important that the council rises to meet the challenges while being respectful of the good work that is being carried out in Ballyspillane.
“As chairman of the Joint Policing Committee, I can say that we are doing everything in our power to get real-time live access CCTV in the town and in Ballyspillane,” he said.
Cllr Kelleher praised the work of council housing officer, Seán McCarthy, who liaises closely with the residents, and he said Community Garda Diane Collins has “a fantastic working relationship” with the people in Ballyspillane.
“She has done tremendous work and that has to be acknowledged. It’s important to focus on the positives ad well as dealing with the challenges,” he said.
Cllr John Joe Culloty said the council must “come down hard” and adopt a zero tolerance policy to anti-social activities in the area.
“It’s as good a community as there is anywhere else in Killarney. The majority of what goes on there is good and it’s positive and there can be no tolerance for anti-social behaviour,” said Cllr Culloty who pledged to contribute €10,000 from his councillor’s allocation if an overall improvement scheme is implemented in the estate.
Cllr Brendan Cronin urged the council to be forceful and he said there must be clear-cut ground rules laid out to protect law-abiding residents.
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae said recent events in Ballyspillane had been very distressing for everybody and she hopes those responsible are brought to the attention of the gardaí.
She said there is a derelict house in the estate that is a “beacon for anti-social behaviour” with teenagers seen walking on the roof and lighting fires.
“It’s only a matter of time before somebody is killed there. Something very tragic is going to happen and I would ask Kerry County Council to address this as a matter of emergency,” Cllr Healy-Rae remarked.
Cllr Donal Grady, who pointed out that a member of his family is living in Ballyspillane, said he understands the community frustration because the council is not paying enough attention to the problems.
“Enforcement doesn’t exist in Ballyspillane. It’s a disgrace the way we are leaving it,” he said.
Cllr Michael Gleeson said the standard of the environment where they live determines how people behave and there is a requirement for the highest possible standards to be achieved in the estate.
“We must give everyone hope so that they will look around and say this is a wonderful place in which to live,” he remarked.
Cllr Gleeson recalled another time when trees were being deliberately broken in another part of town and he told the people to keep planting because the trees and the vandals would both grow up.
Mayor John Sheahan said CCTV is the obvious solution to many of the problems in the estate and although there might be some concerns about people’s rights if cameras are installed, the rights of the victims must also be considered.
“We must get the people involved in anti-social behaviour and take them out of the equation,” he said.
Kerry County Council housing official, Seán McCarthy, who works closely with residents in the estate, said Ballyspillane is a good place to live but, unfortunately, there have been a few incidents in which the publicity has been “over the top”.
He said, contrary to some opinion, the council is not in a position to evict any resident that might be involved in anti-social behaviour as that was a matter exclusively for the courts to decide. The council has brought people to the court but others are not willing to make statements so it is not possible to bring a case, he pointed out.
Killarney Town Engineer, Vincent Horgan, acknowledged the great work that has been done in Ballyspillane and what the residents have achieved. He said an estimate is currently being prepared to upgrade the LED lighting in the estate, work has been done and more will be done to improve footpaths and concerns about parking near the community resource centre will be addressed.
Town Manager, Angela McAllen, said the planning office will examine concerns about derelict sites within the estate and she is aware that there is “an active file” on the matter.
“Ballyspillane is a priority area for us,” Ms McAllen stressed.
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