Glenowen residents show ‘change can happen’ but say they’re not done yet

Residents in Glenowen are delighted that a section of wall on their estate has been repaired but they say there’s much more work to be done.

Glenowen residents have come together to set up a residents taskforce to tackle the issues in their estate. The first issue, a broken boundary wall, has been repaired by Apex and the residents are ‘so happy’ with the result. They say, however, that there are many more issues to fix in the estate, including another section of the wall that was damaged after a car crashed into it last year. Apex say the wall is expected to be repaired in the coming weeks.

Co-Chair of the Residents Group Joe Blee said: We’re so happy that this part of the wall has been fixed. We only had one meeting and one protest and it was fixed and we’re delighted with that. I would like to thank Apex for fixing it but there’s still so much more that needs to be done.

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“When we took the picture at the red-brick wall recently, there was around 20 children playing in the street. There are so many children that play in that area and it’s the main entrance into Glenowen. It’s two main roads coming together. This wall was broken by a driver crashing into it, which just shows the speed some people be driving along this road. What if there was a child out playing when that hit?

Glenowen residents at the broken wall on the estate boundary. The residents are happy that another section of the wall was repaired but feel the estate is still not safe for the children.

“We are more motivated now that we have one issue fixed. The numbers are growing every day in the Facebook group. We’re nearly half way there to having everyone involved and coming to protests and showing that we’re all standing together and we’ll not back down.

“We hope that people hear how we’re getting on and that inspires other estates to get up and do what they need to do. All you need is a group of people who are passionate about where they live and change can happen. We’ve proven that just three weeks after forming a residents group.

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“I would love to thank the SDLP, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and Gary Donnelly for all their help so far with this.”

Ann Marie Wilson, Co-Chair of the residents group said: “The fixing of the first part of the wall is progress but we still have a long way to go. Glenowen is completely dilapidated and it has been left in disrepair for such a long time. Safety is a big concern for us. The wall is just not fit for purpose and that is shown by the damage. That red brick wall is a T-junction from Sheriffs Mountain. I had a near-miss there last week where someone came down the road at speed and didn’t stop in time. I had to do an emergency stop with my two children in the car and it was terrifying. 
“You have to come up past that red brick wall to come into Glenowen. That’s the first thing you see and that’s the first impression people have of our estate.

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Top: the section of broken wall on the boarder of Glenowen. Bottom: The repairs carried out by Apex Housing Association.

“We would love a meeting with Apex and the council committee. We want to sit down and highlight the issue as residents. We need our voice to be heard. I’ve lived in the street since 1985 and I’ve seen a lot in the street, including seeing a family die because of the structure of the house. Glenowen are a great community. I grew up here then I bought a house here because I know it’s a great place for my children to grow up but it’s just become unsafe. It’s an eyesore. I would love Apex and someone from the Council to come and walk through the estate and see how dilapidated it is.

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“We’re such a strong community, we would love a community hub and we would love for the estate to look good for all the residents but number one at the minute is making it safe for our children.”

A spokesperson for Apex Housing Association said: “We are glad to hear residents are happy with the work carried out recently and would be pleased to meet with the committee to discuss any further concerns.  Repairs to the outstanding boundary wall are expected to be completed in the coming weeks once our contractor has sourced the necessary materials.”

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“We agree that a multi-agency approach is the best way forward and remain hopeful that the new taskforce set up by Derry City and Strabane District Council will help tackle many of the public realm concerns raised by those living in Glenowen, many of which fall outside our remit.”