A Craigavon councillor has expressed his frustration with the lack of toileting facilities at Oxford Island, describing the situation as “beyond ridiculous”.
Speaking at Council’s monthly meeting on Monday, Councillor Declan McAlinden told the chamber that for the past three years he has lobbied for the installation of toilets near Oxford Island’s play park which opened in March 2022 but has seen no progress on the issue.
The SDLP councillor told the chamber of his “deep frustration and disappointment” at the situation and while he “respects” the advice of council officers, he told the chamber something needs to be done to address the situation, given the number of visitors to the attraction.
“I make no apologies for raising this issue again. It is with deep frustration and disappointment that I want my remarks noted about the toilet facilities at Oxford Island,” he said.
“Having lobbied for the toilets near the play park for three years I am still receiving the same response about bat surveys.
“I totally understand and respect our officers advice about the need to protect out wildlife but we must have adequate toilet facilities to accommodate the large number of people visiting the sites.
“At the weekend I witnessed a young lady with a young child coming out of the old derelict buildings going to the toilet. I went over to the discovery centre and discovered the toilets there were out of order.”
He continued: “It is getting beyond ridiculous. Having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on new facilities we can’t provide simple toilet facilities at the site.
“Whatever happens on May 18, going forward, I hope Oxford Island is still on the agenda and whoever takes up the mantle should keep it in the spotlight.”
Council’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Paul Greenfield told Cllr McAlinden “it is certainly something that will need to be looked at again” noting the local authority is putting a lot of money and work into the facilities at present.
Portadown Councillor Julie Flaherty said everyone knows her position on the need for adequate toilet provision at council facilities and said Cllr McAlinden can be sure that every UUP councillor returned to the chamber after May’s election is fully supportive of this campaign.
“You are entirely correct in what you say Cllr McAlinden,” said Cllr Flaherty.
“There is no point in us building these state-of-the-art play parks without the matching facilities, it just does not make sense to me.
“There is a brand new accessible see-saw going in, the first of its kind in this borough and I can’t wait to see it. It has been so hard fought for and I am sure we will make a lot of noise about it.
“Yet despite this, we don’t have adequate parking or adequate disabled parking facilities nor do we have toileting facilities in the area. We are encouraging families and children to go to these places but what do they do when they are there?
“I will tell you, they simply do not go.
“You can take it as a promise from me and my colleagues who are able to return after May 18, we will take this campaign on with you.”