Aug 24 2011 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Sharron and Ethan McGee
AN Airdrie boy missed his first day at school after mindless bullies caused him to be thrown off a playpark roundabout and break his arm.
Little Ethan McGee had to stay at home with his left arm in plaster on the day he was meant to join the other new starters at St Dominic’s Primary School.
Two days earlier, the five-year-old had been on top of the climbing frame roundabout in the park near his home in Cara Road, Petersburn, when two youths decided to have some “fun”.
Ignoring the pleas of other children, they spun the frame faster and faster, causing Ethan to be thrown to the ground and resulting in his broken arm.
Dad Ciaran rushed to the park when he was told what had happened.
He said: “I was distraught when I found him – he was sitting at the side of the park and he was chalk-white.
“I picked him up and his arm was in a mess. I ran down to my next-door neighbour, who is a nurse, and she took us to Monklands Hospital.
“We couldn’t let him go to school as we couldn’t take the risk of any more damage being done.”
The incident happened at the popular play park in the heart of Petersburn when the area was busy with children.
Kids flock there to play on the various items of playpark equipment, but along with the nearby skatepark, it also draws older youths, some of whom drink alcohol and cause trouble.
Ethan’s mum Sharron believes the play areas are being abused and says security measures should be improved.
She said: “The older ones try to get the wee ones to fight each other for their entertainment.
“They are not in the park to play – they are in the park to cause havoc.
“They are drinking, setting things on fire and there’s broken glass everywhere. The council have spent all that money on this area but there seems to be no security.
“I think CCTV cameras should be installed to keep an eye on the place and stop things like this happening.”
Airdrie South councillor David Fagan backed his constituent’s call for improved security.
He said: “As the vice-chair of the Petersburn Development Trust, I have been calling on North Lanarkshire Council to introduce CCTV to the park for quite some time.
“Not only would this help to make the park safer, it would also help to reduce the vandalism that takes place, both in the park and in the local primary schools.
“Members of the Petersburn Development Trust have been working hard over the past 10 years to transform what was essentially a derelict piece of ground into a park for all the community.
“The latest phase of this development, the creation of a seven-a-side grass football pitch and the landscaping of the surrounding area, is now coming to completion.
“It’s sad to see all this hard work undermined by a few thugs and vandals who seem to care little for their local community.
“I would encourage anyone who wants to help improve their community to contact me and to work with members of the Trust.”
North Lanarkshire Council have vowed to look into the incident and other “issues” in relation to the play area.
Martin Dickson, local regeneration manager, said: “I will arrange to meet all interested parties, including Petersburn Development Trust and the police, to discuss issues surrounding the park and we will continue to monitor incidents in the area through our community planning colleagues.”
Monklands police have urged anyone with information on any anti-social behaviour at the park to contact them.
Chief Inspector John Fitzpatrick said: “We are fully aware of the issues at this park and will continue to police the area robustly and allocate additional patrols.
“We would like to speak to anyone with specific information on this incident.”