27 February 2006

A voice for every house


by Damian McCarney

A new drive to tackle the many problems of Poleglass will see up to a dozen new residents’ associations formed over the coming months. In recent years residents’ associations have become increasingly popular in estates throughout West Belfast, with the exception of Poleglass. The absence of the associations is even more surprising given the significant level of anti-social behaviour in the area.

At a public meeting held in Sally Gardens last month, the idea of setting up residents’ associations for each area was endorsed as the best approach to dealing with the problems in the estate. It was also agreed that delegates from each of the new groups would represent residents on the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership Board, who organise community initiatives in the area.

Rosa McLaughlin from Colinmill was elected to organise the setting up of the associations.

“The new residents’ associations will empower people on the ground by ensuring that every street and house in Poleglass has a voice.

“We have identified 13 distinct areas in Poleglass and yet there is only one residents’ group in existence at present, and that is Glenbawn. It should be noted that there has been amazing work done in the area by the Glenbawn Residents’ Association, and it has resulted in massive changes on the ground in the estate,” said Rosa.

Rosa believes that there is great need for community participation in tackling problems that affect the lives of Poleglass residents.

“We intend to tackle anti-social issues, and encourage facilities for young people at night. We will also address the fear of vulnerable people living under threat of burglary and attacks. There have been a number of local schools and community groups vandalised and burgled which cannot continue. We can also make inroads into getting the bins collected, rubbish cleared up and graffiti removed,” said Rosa.The residents’ associations will come together to form the Poleglass Community Forum, and it is planned that they will link with similar community forums from Kilwee, Twinbrook and Lagmore to form the Colin Community Council. In order to establish the 13 residents’ groups there will be two public meetings – on Tuesday, February 28 at the Footprints Women’s Centre at 7.30pm and on Thursday, March 2 at the Sally Gardens at 7.30pm.

Journalist:: Damien McCarney

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