Fifeteen years ago in June 2003, Kirkcaldy’s picturesque Pathhead Sands were under siege from vandals.
Drunkenness, vandalism, joyriders and noise were combining to turn the area into a litter-strewn mess, and one which locals were starting to turn away from.
In a bid to stop the trouble the area’s new councillor, the SNP’s Albert Ritchie, said he wanted to “reclaim” Pathhead Sands from the “yobs and hooligans who are turning the place into a no go area”.
Mr Ritchie had written to Fife Chief Constable Peter Wilson, saying many of his constituents were afraid to venture near Ravenscraig Park, the nearby Castle or Pathhead Sands on weekend evenings because of the anti-social behaviour from loitering youngsters.
Cllr Ritchie said parts of the area now resemble a “wasteland worthy of some of the worst housing estates in Scotland”.
At the same the Fife Free Press received a letter from a local resident calling for action after joyriders had left a burning car in the area, as well as vandalising benches and fencing at Pathhead Sand’s picnic area.
“On one evening last weekend I counted 41 youngsters at the main gate of the park, drinking Buckfast and lager, causing a disturbance and some of them were even urinating in public.” Cllr Ritchie said.
“There’s also the problem of these young yobs bringing cars into the area, causing damage and abandoning them; a problem which reached a new low last weekend when one was set on fire.
“These hooligans are taking over the area and something has to be done about it. This is one of the best parts of the town and it’s being spoiled.”
Cllr Ritchie said a locked barrier at the entrance to the area could deter the joyriders, a suggestion which had the backing of some locals, and also called in the police to increase their presence in the area.
“We need increased police patrols to combat this and also barriers put up to stop cars gaining easy access to the area.
“I truly believe Pathhead is worth a greater police presence, especially on the weekend when these hooligans are allowed to roam unchecked and spoil everyone’s peace.
“It’s time this lovely area of Kirkcaldy was reclaimed from the yobs and hooligans bringing it down.
However, the problem seemed to escalate over the next two weeks – windows were smashed and graffiti daubed at Ravenscraig Bowling Club – and in the interim Fife Council’s Community Service had nixed the idea of erecting a barrier.
Cllr Ritchie once again hit out at the “spiralling” problem in the pages of the FFP, and claimed it was “getting worse by the week.”
A local resident also contacted The Press, saying that some of the youths gathering at the site were “drunk out of their minds”, adding: “they can’t be any more than 12 or 13 years old.
She also recounted a recent incident where a car towing a caravan stopped at the sands, unhooked the caravan, set it on fire and drove off.
“This is what residents here have to put up with on too many occasions and something should be done about closing the area to the morons who do this,” she said, backing the call for a barrier.
Chief Superintendent John McNab of Fife Police said he would react to the problem of Pathhead.
“It’s our intention to meet shortly with Cllr Ritchie and others to discuss the situation, he said.
“We look forward to making progress which will benefit the quality of life for everyone in the area.”