Northern Ireland

Extra security promised for residents left 'traumatised' by fans returning from Ed Sheeran gig at Boucher Playing Fields

Ed Sheeran played to thousands of fans at Boucher Playing Fields in May
Ed Sheeran played to thousands of fans at Boucher Playing Fields in May

BELFAST City Council has said there will be extra security to protect residents from revellers returning from outdoor concerts after claims they were left “traumatised” by Ed Sheeran fans earlier this year.

People living on Lislea Avenue near Boucher Playing Fields said people returning from the gig in May littered their street and used it as a toilet.

At the recent meeting of the council's Licensing Committee, Sinn Féin councillor Geraldine McAteer said: “I have been contacted by residents of Lislea Avenue off Lisburn Road in relation to events that happened after the Ed Sheeran concert.

“While Lislea Avenue seems quite a distance away from Boucher Playing Fields, and a very small street with a small number of residents – the bridge that crosses to Balmoral is there. When people are going to the concerts they tend to come from Lisburn Road, and go over the bridge.

“That normally doesn’t cause much hassle – but the trouble happens on the way back, when people leave the concerts. And residents have been left traumatised.

“They are a tiny little street, with about seven or eight houses. They said they had people ringing their doorbells, knocking their windows, urinating against their houses, and people throwing bottles around.

“They were absolutely terrified, and their pets were terrified as well. Local entries were strewn with rubbish and bottles. There was no security, no PSNI, no one really to turn to.”

She said residents had to be “reassured” and asked for “cast iron” measures to be put in place both by the council and promoters using the venue in future.

She said: “We need proper management of people coming off that bridge, so they are not upsetting or annoying residents. It is having a big health and wellbeing impact – and they are particularly concerned about two night festivals.”

A council officer told the committee: “We are very keen to meet with the residents in advance of the event to hear first hand what their concerns are. But even in advance of that we have already been in touch with the promoter of the event.

“They have already agreed and secured additional event site security resources to put at the bridge for the amount of people and the behaviours in that area. We have also been in touch with our colleagues in the Community Safety Team, and we will make sure there are community feet on the street for both evenings of the 'Emerge' concerts.

“We have had very positive feedback for this type of approach for previous concerts, in areas identified as hotspots. This is about looking after vulnerable people and also addressing impacts of antisocial behaviour. We recognise the impact can be very, very negative, so we are keen to take this revised approach.”

The council has arranged a site visit for elected representatives and a meeting with residents.