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Belfast council spends £9,000 tackling Holylands disorder

BELFAST City Council spent almost £9,000 tackling disorder in the mainly student Holylands area over the St Patrick’s holiday period earlier this year.

The cost emerges as thousands of students return to the south Belfast neighbourhood for Freshers’ events next week ahead of the new university term.

Residents have for years complained of anti-social behaviour caused by drink-fuelled students descending on the area.

They branded the annual spending “completely untenable” and called for an “overall regeneration strategy” to tackle the problem.

Freshers’ week last year saw more than 300 anti-social behaviour incidents reported in the Holylands, with council officials confiscating more than 600 units of alcohol.

And over St Patrick’s this year, police made 15 arrests in the Holylands and city centre for various public order offences.

The cost of the council’s Holylands operations on March 16 and 17 over the past five years was obtained by The Irish News through a freedom of information request.

A total of £8,986 was spent earlier this year, and almost £40,000 from 2013 to 2017.

The operations included deploying community safety wardens, as well as noise and cleansing teams in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Brid Ruddy, of the College Park Avenue Residents’ Association, warned the overall cost could be significantly higher when including other resources deployed such as policing.

“It’s completely untenable. It’s money wasted,” she said, calling for an “overall regeneration strategy”.

“I don’t think the council needs to be spending £9,000 on an entirely predictable event, on something that they should be preventing from happening,” she said.

Residents met with police, university and council officials on Tuesday as part of the Belfast Holylands Regeneration Association to discuss plans to combat issues during this year’s Freshers’ period.

Ms Ruddy expressed fears that Freshers’ Week could bring a “crime wave” of anti-social behaviour,…

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