View Full Version : Community council concern over nuisance groups and cruisers

05-Apr-11, 16:17
Bar nuisance groups from the town hall-suggests local councillor Graeme Smith

A COUNCILLOR has suggested putting up gates at the entrance to one of Wick’s impressive buildings, the town hall, to deny loitering youths from getting access.
The fortification proposal for the one-time civic centre, by Councillor Graeme Smith, is a measure of the concern being felt, locally, about groups of youths making a nuisance of themselves in the town centre and commandeering the pavements, to such an extent, that citizens have to step onto the road to get past, and feel intimidated. He floated the gates sanction at the monthly meeting the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, this week, but no decision was taken on it.
There are five entry points at the front of the town hall and it's one of the groups’ regular haunts. Mr Smith, who is Highland councillor as well as a member of the community council, said the gates when locked, would keep the youths out of the town hall forecourt which he claimed was being used as a toilet, at times. “Respect seems to have gone by the board” he added.
Councillor Wendy Campbell said that the loitering youths were causing “a lot of hassle” in the town centre.
She continued: “Stepping onto the road is the only way for local people to get by, and that’s not safe. All we are asking is a little bit of respect.” Mrs Campbell added that it wasn’t unknown for some women to have to plan a longer route home, in order to avoid the groups.
Acting police sergeant, James McConnachie sympathised with members in a problem that warranted “a robust approach”. However, he said that while they moved the youths on, it either resulted in the problem going to another part of the town, or they returned to their original stance once the police had left, using their mobiles to keep each other up-to-date, and returning when the coast was clear. Police action was limited as the youths were not committing an offence.

Cruisers getting faster

Councillor Johanna Coghill said that the problem of boy cruisers, was getting worse and they seem to be travelling faster than before on their town centre circuits. She wondered if a police talk to local high school might pay dividends. The police have exercised "cruise control"in the past and cautioned the errant drivers who have said to have been responsible for discourage guest from staying at the Norseman Hotel
Sgt McConnachie said that the talk was an idea worth considering along with other possible measures. Replying to another concern about youths drinking in the street, he said that officers had confiscated alcohol on occasions and would continue to do so.
He instanced cases where offenders were taken into the police station and their parents summoned.
However, Mr Smith made the point that, sometimes, the parents could not be contacted because they were out drinking.
“We are living in a drink culture”, he added.
Earlier, Mr Smith, a member of the Highland Police Board, deplored the cuts being forced on the force. He underlined the vital role of the police in the community and added: “The force should be the last thing to be cut back”. The police sargeant said he would communicate the community
councils concerns to the area commander, Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss.

Schools review

Reporting on the ongoing review of schools, Bill Fernie, chairman of Highland Council’s Education and Cultural Services Committee said it was a huge undertaking and that the next school on the list was Thrumster which he was due to visit on April 19, to speak to the parent council and community councillors. He told the Wick community council that a meeting had taken place, recently, with local head teachers and added: “I gather it went well and there was a lot of information from the heads, but have not seen a report on it yet.” Mr Smith suggested it would be best not to fix a deadline for the review so that it could be given due consideration of what was required in Caithness schools. He added: “If you rush things you will get nowhere.”

Gaelic signs

IT appears that the Gaelic signs controversy is set to flare up again. Mr Smith also warned that following the success of the National Mod in Caithness, the vexed question of Gaelic signs was to be “revisited” by the authority’s Gaelic Committee with a view to imposing the bi-lingual sineage on the Highlands.

He added: “We may have to fight that battle again, quite soon.”

New council offices

Replying to an inquiry about the timescale on the proposed new council offices in Market Square, Wick, area ward manager, David Sutherland, said that they expected to get the go-ahead in the capital budget in May or June, and given another year for planning it would probably be a year to 18 months before work started. The contract will involve the demolition of the present county buildings.