The lives of people living near an interface building site are being put at risk after an escalation in anti-social behaviour and vandalism which has seen the emergency services called out 19 times in the past three months.
Seán Montgomery, Development Worker with Skegoniell and Glandore Common Purpose, maded the claim as he called on the Housing Executive to address the growing problems at Queen Victoria Gardens and Fortwilliam Parade off Glandore Avenue.
Houses are currently being demolished in the area as part of HE regeneration plans. But in the past week alone fire crews have been called to the site twice after a gas leak and a fire. On Monday night (July 2) residents living near the site had to be evacuated and a shop next to the site was forced to close for a short time after a gas leak caused by vandalism was discovered by a HE worker in one of the vacant houses.
Then on Tuesday fire crews had to put out a fire started deliberately at another house.
The latest incident was the 19th time that the fire service have been called to the site since April 1.
Seán Montgomery said the problems are having a negative effect on the good cross-community relations in the area particularly with the erection of a bonfire on the site.
“These attacks on the community have emerged due to the inability to complete the demolition programme in a time,” he said.
“This has fast become a community safety issue that is affecting good relations. Not only do we have an unwanted dangerous attraction for kids and anti-social elements, but we now have a by-product of a bonfire.”
He said the failure to agree a timely and coordinated disconnection of services from the houses to be demolished was at the heart of the problems.
“The HE have been demolishing 44 unfit properties since October 2011 and since then they have been rehousing residents.
A spokeswoman for the HE said “Properties are secured as soon as they become vacant and are re-secured if necessary, however, demolition can only be undertaken once all services have been disconnected.”
She said that the HE anticipated that all demolitions will be completed by the end of July.