After the public storm, a calm in Templehall?

There was a big turn out at last week's meeting
There was a big turn out at last week's meeting

Residents in Templehall have welcomed the calm that descended over over the area at the weekend as the community experienced its first relatively trouble-free period in months.

It came just days after one resident claimed the wave of anti-social behaviour, drinking, drug taking and disorder, that had become so prevalent in recent weeks, was making many feeling like prisoners in their own homes.

“It’s like a cancer and it’s spreading, it’s getting worse,” one resident told a hastily arranged public meeting last week.

Locals have called on the police, schools and Fife Council to do whatever is necessary to curb the problem.

Gangs of up to 100 youths have gathered in and around the Birnam Road area of Templehall making lives a misery, and it’s being allowed to get worse, say those faced with the nightly problems.

One resident who said she had lived in the area all her life claimed the problem was getting out of control and the worse she had ever experienced in the area, especially at the weekends.

Another said that the authorities needed to “come down hard on them” and act now before someone is killed.

One angry parent said their young child had been offered drugs by one of the youths.

“My child was offered ‘sherbet’, we all know what that refers to, drugs are rife among the groups, someone has to put a stop to this,”he said.

Councillor Neil Crooks, one of those who organised the meeting, following a sharp rise in complaints, told residents: “This isn’t something that will be sorted out in days or weeks, this is going to take months.”

“This is not an area that is going to sit back and let an unruly mob ruin their community.

“But we need the community to help if we are going to get to the core of the problem.”

With drinking and drug taking rife among the groups claim residents, calls we made for the schools to do more to tackle the problem.

“We have received intelligence that suggests drink and drugs are being taken and we have a list of 20-30 names which we are currently looking into,” said Derek Allan, rector at Kirkcaldy High School.

But he added that many of the youths were coming in from outside of the Kirkcaldy area, with some travelling in from as far away as Glenrothes.

He also revealed that many were telling parents they were having sleepovers at friends but instead were heading to Templehall, often staying out all night.

“I accept that the school has a prominent role to play when it comes to making pupils understand that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated,” Mr Allan told residents.

“Social media has a significant influence on when and who congregates in certain areas and we will monitor that to pinpoint the ringleaders and to keep up with anything that is happening.”

Since then Mr Allan has met with head teachers at a number of other schools in the area to see if they can with a solution to the growing problem of anti-social behaviour among their pupils.

Community Sergeant Jimmy Adamson, acknowledged the frustration of many residents who had called 101 only to receive little or no response from police, but insisted that more would be done to tackle the growing problem of unruly gangs congregating in the area.

“We have stepped up patrols in the area and will continue to target gangs where we can.”

He added that the mobile CCTV van would continue to be mobilised in the area at peak times to help identify the ringleaders.

And he is confident that the community has started to see a change in the situation experienced in recent weeks.

“While there have still been a number of youths out on the streets, there has certainly been fewer reports of problems being experienced by those who live here,” explained Sergeant Adamson.

“I fully understand the public’s frustration when they telephone 101 yet don’t receive the level of response that their call deserves.

“People made it clear in no uncertain terms that they were unhappy with the current situation and I understsand that.

“It was especially encouraging to hear a number of ideas and suggestions coming from the community and I’m especially pleased to see a number of initiatives, including the YMCA opening up on Saturdays, which will give youngsters an outlet.”

Sergeant Adamson also indicated that the monthly ‘Clued Up’ initiative, which see officers supporting volunteers in educating young people in regards to drink and drugs will be operating across the Templehall area tomorrow (Friday).

“All aspects of the community need to be involved and I’m confident we will see that and a change in the attitudes.”

One of the recurring themes at last week’s public meeting was the apparent lack of activities and events for youngsters to engage in.

One organisation determined to do all it can to help the situation is Kirkcaldy YMCA.

Following the success of two events, run in conjunction with the police earlier in the year, which officers say resulted in a sharp reduction in incidents of youth disorder, YMCA have secured funding to open the YM on Saturdays throughout the winter. “We’ve secured enough funding thanks to the support of Youth Link Scotland Cash Back for Communities fund, to allow us to offer something positive for youths to do in the area,” said Liz Easton, general secretary of Kirkcaldy YMCA.

The ‘Saturday Nite Y’ will be open to all 11 -17 year olds offering a safe an friendly place to come. The club will offer free wifi, pool, games and music. The sports hall will also be available and other events are also being planned. There will be a nominal admission fee of £1 and the club will operate from October 1 until Easter 2017.