The repair bill for damage caused by vandals across the city over the last year could be more than one million pounds, a local councillor has claimed.
Sinn Féin councillor Tony Hassan made the claim after carrying out an investigation into rising levels of vandalism across the city in recent months.
Colr. Hassan said the damage caused by bonfires, rioting, metal thefts, and other acts of vandalism right across the Derry City Council area in the year from March 2011 cost at least £800,000 to repair. However colr. Hassan said he believes that figure represents “a drop in the ocean” and estimates the real cost to be in excess of £1 million.
The Shantallow colr. said he liaised with a range of statutory agencies while looking into the issue. “I did some research over the last few months and talked to a number of statutory bodies such as the Housing Executive, DRD Road Service, Derry City Council, and I found from March 2011 up until March 2012 the cost of vandalism to the tax and rate payers of this city was over £800,000.
“This figure could be a drop in the ocean because all the statutory bodies will tell you that they put the cost of vandalism into the general maintenance pot so can only give an estimate on the real figure. This could mean that the real figure is over £1million. This is money which could be much better spent improving the city and helping out community groups that are struggling at the moment,” he said.
The Sinn Féin colr. said a new approach is needed to tackle vandalism and reduce the repair bill for local ratepayers. “We have seen vandals causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to Housing Executive properties, and street lights’ cables taken from lampposts in and around the city which over the last Christmas period left some areas in darkness. Then we have schools, community facilities and green spaces being vandalised. The latest figures from the road service suggest that it will take £10,000 to repair damage to roads caused by recent recreational rioting. Many people are asking what can be done to help tackle the scourge of vandalism. I believe there needs to be a collective approach from all the agencies across the city - be they be diversionary projects, positive interventions, the courts and a look at tenancy agreements,” he said.