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Two month trial will see entrance gate to Loughgall Country Park left open at all times

Loughgall Country Park

ABC councillors have approved a recommendation to leave the entrance to Loughgall Country Park open at all times, as part of a trial scheme during March and April.

The matter was discussed at a recent Leisure & Community Services Committee meeting, with Martin Towe, acting head of Health & Recreation, explaining: “We have an entrance to Loughgall Country Park at Loughgall village itself, right in the middle of the village.

“During the pandemic there was a massive rise in the user numbers for the park, and that led to traffic congestion in and around the gate itself, with a lot of illegal parking and restrictions on traffic on the actual road.

“On the advice of of the PSNI we introduced a schedule for opening and closing the gate, to try to discourage people from coming along during the evening times and causing the obstruction.

“Obviously things have normalised since the pandemic, and we are able to better access the car park in the park itself, so we are proposing that we would revert to opening the gate and leaving it open for a two-month period, on the basis that if there are any other issues around parking or at the gate, then we would revert to the opening and closing schedule.

“At the end of the trial period, if all [goes] well then we would leave the gate open going forward.”

At the committee meeting, councillors were informed that local residents have begun to access the park during the summer evenings by squeezing trough the gaps between the adjacent fence and the gates, risking injury and causing wear to the pillars and paintwork.

Local councillors have had representations from the local community, asking that the gates be left open as per the previous arrangement, and officers have discussed this with PSNI who advise they will only become involved if there is a complaint.

The proposal to leave the gates open is for a trial period from March 1 to April 30.

If this leads to traffic disruption, the council will revert to the previous opening times.

The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon (SDLP, Armagh DEA), and seconded by Councillor Keith Ratcliffe (TUV, Cusher DEA).

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