Balbriggan’s youth need spaces to socialise – survey

Ireland’s youngest town has overwhelmingly asked for a focus on creating spaces for young people to socialise outside of school according to the results of the Our Balbriggan public survey.

Over 4,000 Balbriggan residents aged over 11 took part in the survey to prioritise a list of suggested improvements for a €20m-plus transformation of the town.

The survey asked questions around four pillars, and the community affairs and integration pillar focused on the best steps Balbriggan can take to create a strong, inclusive place where people can realise their full potential.

Within this pillar, development of spaces for young people to socialise outside of school was the most favourable change the participants would like to see.

The Balbriggan leadership group, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, President, Dublin City University, had prepared suggestions for a €20million-plus rejuvenation plan – an ambitious new vision for the town, shaped by the views of its population.

“In order to create a strong and inclusive community in Balbriggan, social spaces for young people to congregate, increased safety and policing, festivals and events to promote integration, and more sports facilities were seen as the four most important factors,” said Professor MacCraith.

“Social spaces for young people generated 72% support among the survey takers, leading the choices in both the under 25 and the 25-54 categories, and increased safety and policing had 62% support.

“51% of participants supported more festivals and events, focused around promoting pride and greater integration in the town, while 48% would like to see an increase in sporting facilities.”

When looking at the three participating age groups, the top four preferences remain almost the same.

Differences across the age groups included those under 25 favouring more festivals and events  slightly higher than those 25 and over.

Those over 55 prioritised community spaces for arts and theatre over more sports facilities, with increased safety and policing also jumping to the number one spot among this age group.

“What we need to do next is to work through the most effective models to deliver and manage these facilities,” said Paul Reid, Chief Executive, Fingal County Council.

“This is a really exciting time for the town of Balbriggan and Fingal County Council and its partners are committed to delivering on commitments given to the community.”

A Balbriggan Socio-Economic Strategy, which will be published in April, will contain an implementation plan with a list of actions, activities and accompanying timelines, directly influenced by the results of the Our Balbriggan survey.