Trees felled to ‘combat yobs’

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A TOTAL of seven mature fir trees growing along the picturesque banks of the River Bann have been cut down by the DRD in order to discourage loitering and anti-social behaviour.

In the same week that a tree killing disease was discovered at Somerset Forest, more of Coleraine’s natural beauty has been sacrificed - this time in the name of policing.

It is understood the decision to fell the evergreen giants which lined the Tow Path next to the old bridge, followed an “Environmental and Visual Audit” of the Waterside Area of Coleraine, carried out in a joint operation by Coleraine Town Centre Partnership and the local PSNI.

Representatives of the two bodies spoke with staff at Coleraine County Hall following complaints from the local community about anti-social drinking and anti-social behaviour in the grounds and neighbouring area.

At a recent meeting of the District Policing Partnership, Area Commander Inspector Nicky Thompson, confirmed the arrangement.

“Police in Coleraine have always adopted a proactive approach to enforcement, however, to be truly effective a partnership problem solving approach needs to adopted,” he said.

Describing the drinking and loutish behaviour of a small group of youths next to the Clothworkers’ Building, Waterside, the Chief Inspector added that local communities had suffered the behaviour for quite some “considerable time” before a neighbourhood policeman, Sergeant Sean Craig, and the town centre manager met with County Hall officials and came up with the tree felling plan.

A Roads Service Spokesperson said: “A number of leylandi trees have been removed from the Tow Path area of Coleraine. This work was requested by the Town Centre Partnership in conjunction with PSNI. The leylandi will be replaced with much less intrusive trees as part of on-going work in the area.”

Julienne Elliott, Town Centre Manager, said: “The action to remove the leylandi and replace with trees similar to those on the rest of the tow path was identified during a multiagency environmental audit carried out on the waterside car park area.

“The property division within County Hall were aware of the audit and agreed to carry out this work as part of the its ongoing programme for the estate. The leylandi will be replaced by more suitable trees which will enhance the tow path area and encourage people to make use of the waterside car park both during the day and evening.”

PSNI Inspector Catherine Magee said: “Responding to a wide range of community concerns, police worked collaboratively with other agencies to carry out an environmental audit of the area.”