Council officials have said they are working with residents and groups to resolve fresh health and safety fears in relation to matches being played on the pitches at Brooke Park.
Residents have claimed that over recent weeks a formerly “banned” part of the pitch has again opened to football teams despite fears that someone could be injured or killed as a result of balls coming over fencing and landing on moving vehicles along Rosemount Avenue.
Discussions between local people and council staff about this issue have been ongoing since the new facility opened last year, the residents said.
Local people said that they had witnessed footballs hitting cars travelling on the road, causing them to veer and mount footpaths, narrowly missing pedestrians. The balls also have skimmed pedestrians, they said. One resident said: “As they come with a lot of force they could do serious damage to pedestrians, especially children.”
The residents said they were relieved when it was confirmed last summer that there would be no use of the upper half of the pitch to reduce this risk. They claimed, however, that this decision was later amended to allow under 12s to play.
Meanwhile, older age groups have had access to the “banned section of the pitch” for matches on several occasions over recent weeks, they claimed.
One resident said: “Having the football pitch situated on Rosemount Avenue is brilliant, as it brings a great atmosphere to the area that had been lost. We want to see the clubs have use of the whole pitch and we have fully agreed to all proposed measures to resolve the situation. However we will not tolerate a high safety risk while a solution is being found.”
A spokesperson for Derry and Strabane Council confirmed that council was aware of this issue and working with residents and stakeholders to look at a number of options to resolve and prevent this issue. The council will continue to work with all parties involved.
The Council agreed back in February this year that Fencing erected around new pitches at Brooke Park Was to be extended upwards following safety concern over “spillage of balls” posing a hazard to cars or pedestrians. The Council’s Planning Committee approved a three metre extension to the existing five metre fencing surrounding the Multi-Use Games Area.
A Planning officer told the committee at the time: “This will prevent the spillage of balls onto the road at Rosemount Avenue.”