Down Royal Racecourse says it has been “forced” to take measures to restrict access to a road around its property that’s a favourite with local joggers and dog walkers.
Officials have erected fencing and gates to restrict pedestrian access to the ambulance road that runs around the perimeter of the racecourse - a move that has angered those who have used the route for many years.
One disgruntled local resident contacted the Ulster Star claiming that many who used the route, accessed from Dunygarton Road, are “totally stunned and very upset” by the move to close it.
The woman, who didn’t want to be named, said she has been walking dogs on the road around the racecourse for more than 30 years.
“I just don’t understand why they’ve done this. I can’t see any justification for it whatsoever,” she said.
“This road is really well used by the local community - joggers, families and people walking their dogs. It shouldn’t be closed off. No one is doing any harm, yet they are denying access to the local community.”
The woman said dog waste bins are provided around the route and stressed that they are “well used”. She added that if someone is causing a nuisance at the site, local people who depend on access to the road for regular exercise shouldn’t be penalised.
Responding to the resident’s concerns, a spokesperson for Down Royal said the decision had been taken to restrict access due to dog fouling and “disturbances of the peace” at the site.
“The ambulance road around the racecourse has historically been open for pedestrians outside of racedays as a goodwill gesture by the racecourse,” she explained. “However, unfortunately due to the large increase in pedestrian and canine traffic both on the ambulance road and the racecourse itself we have now been forced to take restrictive measures.
“The level of dog fouling on the course now poses a serious health and safety risk for our staff and jockeys on a raceday. Furthermore, we have received numerous complaints from local residents relating to disturbances of the peace and traffic problems due to the volume of people walking the site.”
She added: “We are working with Lisburn PSNI, local residents and Turf Club officials to provide a solution that as far as is practicable ensures the safety of our staff, our premises, local residents and all stewards, jockeys and officials on racedays.”
It’s understood access to the road is still available when Down Royal staff are on site.