Council says those ‘partying’ on public footpath will be prosecuted

Tom McKinney looks away in disgust after more litter was left behind his home.mm33-321sr
Tom McKinney looks away in disgust after more litter was left behind his home.mm33-321sr

COOKSTOWN District Council has moved to warn those drinking publicly close to a residential area in the town that they will be prosecuted.

It follows a complaint from a resident who says those living in the Millburn area of the town are being plagued by mid-day parties by happening on a public footpath close to homes.

Drinkers are seemingly loitering on an area known locally as the Old Factory Lane, close to Tesco supermarket, and consuming alcohol as well as leaving behind a trail of glass bottles and empty cans.

Tom McKinney, whose home sits close to the public pathway running from Orritor Street to Millburn Close, said neighbours have been “tortured” by those gathering at the site, who drink in “full view “ of passers-by.

He said he wanted council to erect no drinking signs to help put an end to the behaviour.

“Just two weeks ago there was a group of four to eight girls who started partying at 3pm and they didn’t finish until I went to bed at quarter-to-one in the morning,” the 72 year-old told the MAIL.

“They go into Tesco, get cheap drink and head to this area where they sit in full view of everyone and drink. This just doesn’t happen once in a blue moon, it happens all the time, it’s constant.”

“And it isn’t people from this area that are doing it, some are coming in and loading up on drink before heading on somewhere else. I am lucky that I am not too badly affected, but some of my neighbours are tortured. One of them is constantly picking up empty vodka bottles. The litter is a big problem,” said Mr McKinney.

The Cookstown man, who has lived in his Millburn Avenue home for 30 years, appealed to the council to erect signs banning alcohol.

He said: “If council put up a an illegal drinking sign up on both the Orritor Road, Millburn Close ends of the road, this would help solve the problem and make it stop. It’s wonderful what a sign can do.”

“I have tried the council for years to do this but I am now sick, sore and tired of asking, I have just gave up.”

“Credit where credit is due, the council do send a sweeper down to clean up the mess but more needs to be done to stop this drinking that’s happening continuously. They aren’t doing it behind people’s back, its in full view of everyone.”

The pensioner says that the stretch of lane way, which is considered a public road, has had problems in the past with dog fouling and council was quick to act on the issue by erecting signs.

Clarifying that the Old Factory Lane and surrounding areas are “designated” where no drinking is allowed, Cookstown Environmental Health Officer Mark Kelso said those in breach would be prosecuted.

Mr Kelso said: “The area known as Old Factory Lane is a designated area where council by-laws, including those on public drinking, are in place. Anyone found in breach of council by-laws is liable to legal action.

He continued: “The residential areas surrounding this public footpath are also designated areas where drinking in a public place is prohibited. Council works alongside police in ensuring these by-laws are adhered to.

Mr Kelso added that council would now carry out an assessment of the area following Mr McKinney’s complaint and that if signage would be erected if necessary.