Residents of Bangor, Co Down’s, exclusive seaside district, Ballyholme, have welcomed the end of this summer’s hot weather and the onslaught of tourists it attracted to its shores.
Residents have been under siege from visitors, who had no respect for the rules of the area and proceeded to enjoy themselves by sunbathing, building sand castles and even swimming in the sea.
We spoke to a local business owner Ann Van-De-Baylands-Withers who runs a women’s boutique specialising in nautical stripe clothing and wellington boots for dogs.
‘It’ s been outrageous. Day in and day out people have arrived with baking trays as barbecues and blow up lilos in the sea. My poor dog was unable to do his business with so many people watching him. Its been a nightmare. ‘
Ann and her neighbours have written a petition to the local council and Translink to put an end to the Belfast to Bangor train during hot weather to discourage people from making the journey.
She adds,’ It was difficult to watch, there were children everywhere, not one of them on leads and eating Tesco value crisps. If social services had shown up it would have been chaos.’
A dangerous local biker gang who identify their membership by wearing neon pink leotards and leaving little to the imagination also clashed with visitors.
A member of this gang agreed to talk to us provided we kept his identity anonymous. Speaking from their gang headquarters, a coffee shop in the heart of Ballyholme village, he told us ‘ It was unbelievable, there we were, a small group of three hundred and fifty three of us, cycling side by side to Groomsport when a car had the audacity to overtake us. I’ve never seen anything like it!’
Local off licences have run into difficulties in a clash between locals and visitors. Rumours are rife that the stores sold out of premium gins and tonics forcing locals to slum it with generic gins and cheap tonics. A prosecco shortage was reported and we spoke to one Ballyholme mum who bought 40 bottles after hearing the news.
‘I have four kids, all off for the summer. I can’t run the risk of spending the day sober. What if someone calls and I can’t offer them a glass of fizz?’
Residents of Ballyholme, often described as the St Tropez of Northern Ireland, are scared of the clouds clearing and a return of the sunshine. Many residents are only just returning, having been forced to flee their houses in their yachts and Range Rovers and go to their holiday homes in fear of sharing the area with tourists.
With reports of more sun coming, the future for these locals is bleak.