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What Students & Teens want from Our Balbriggan

A consultation with local teenagers by the Our Balbriggan project has found that they want

cycling lanes, public toilets, more seating and bins, better lighting and public spaces

specifically for young people where they can hang out in peace.



They were among the recommendations from a consultation with students from Ardgillan

College, Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan Community College and Bremore Educate

Together.


The event, in the Bracken Court Hotel, revealed that while the students may not be up to

date on the work of the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation project or Fingal County Council and

what the Council is doing, particularly regarding climate action, they were very engaged

with what the town needs both for their age group and for the wider community.


Aoife Sheridan, Senior Executive Officer with Fingal County Council, who facilitated the

discussion, introduced it by saying that normally it was the students’ parents, community groups and businesses who are most likely to engage in consultative discussions and this was a great opportunity for the Council to hear the voice of the young people of the town.

She outlined the plans of the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation Project and gave them exclusive

a preview of new designs for the Quay Street area, which met with approval from the

students.


The students said that their favourite public open spaces in the town were the beach and

Bell’s pitches, while their least favourite was the harbour, the area around the train station

and some areas at night time, which felt unsafe.



The students identified opportunities to make the town more active for young people with a

swimming pool, more study space in the library, public toilets, more seating and picnic

areas, cycling lanes, pitch and putt and more playground equipment better dispersed

around the town.


There was also a call for zebra crossing spots, more bins, phone charging and wifi facilities,

while street lights in public spaces was a big safety issue for many.


In terms of activities they would like to see in the town, the students suggested a gym just

for teenagers, rock climbing/bouldering wall, an adventure centre, museum, arts facilities

and more comfortable spots where they could sit and gather with their friends.



There was a strong sense from many that they were prevented from using public spaces and

often moved on by authorities because of a mistaken perception that teenagers ‘are there

to cause trouble’.


“You don’t feel safe – you always feel that you are being watched,” said one student.

One particular contribution was that Balbriggan has such a big population of teenagers that

creating just one space for them is not enough and the students expressed a desire for a

number of spaces dedicated for teenagers to use around the town to give them places of

their own to go.


The students cited examples of good public facilities such as swimming pools, a variety of

shops and restaurants and nightclubs in nearby areas such as Skerries, Donabate, Pavillions

in Swords, Drogheda and Howth which they would like to see in Balbriggan.



Ms Sheridan warmly thanked the students for their enthusiastic engagement in the

consultation, saying it had been really valuable for the Council staff to learn what was

important to the young people in the town.


“It’s really fantastic how engaged you’ve been today. It’s great to hear your opinions and

thoughts on what’s happening in Balbriggan and what you’d like to see happen.

Your participation is so important and your feedback today has given us a lot of think about

and it’s good to hear that we’re going in the right direction on lots of things that are

important to you and the whole community,” she said.