Fears of overcrowding prompt new turnstile plan

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Concerns over access control and the potential for overcrowding at football matches has prompted Ballymena Council to introduce an additional turnstile in the Showgrounds at a cost of almost £6,000.

Details of the plan to create an additional turnstile on the ecos side of the Main Stand was contained in a report to a Ballymena Council committee last week when members were reminded there are currently eight turnstiles, four at the ‘home’ side (Slemish Drive) and four at the ‘away’ side (Warden Street).

These, the committee heard, are electronically operated to ensure an accurate account of spectators and that capacity is not breached. At the ecos entrance, through which 40% of home spectators enter the Showgrounds, payment is made at a manned table in the reception area and a manual count of spectators is taken and passed to the Control Tower.

It was pointed out to councillors that “there is a heightened risk of overcrowding in the Main Stand if these manual counts are delayed being relayed to the Control Tower” and that the Safety Certificate required an accurate count of spectators in the main arena at any one time.

They also heard that SportNI had raised concerns regarding that method of access control and potential for overcrowding and that similar concerns had been raised by Ballymena United who had requested another turnstile.

Council officer Bernie Candlish added that it could be in use as early as the next home match and that, at councillors’ request, she would investigate any impact the new turnstile would have for disabled fans.