Aberdeenshire Council will investigate whether illuminating an Ellon park could drive away “troublemakers” intent on causing mayhem.
Councillor Gillian Owen believes the best way to deal with anti-social behaviour in Gordon Park could be to make sure youths are unable to hide under the cover of darkness.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Formartine Area Committee on Tuesday.
Spat over cost of lights in Ellon’s Gordon Park
Prior to the talks, council officers appeared to rule out the idea – citing an impossible £100,000 cost.
But Mrs Owen fumed at the suggestion being “dismissed”, and was backed by other elected members in pressing for action.
She said: “Youngsters have a habit of congregating around the bandstand and around there it’s very dark, anyone passing can be subject to abuse.
“Broken glass bottles are found on a regular basis in and around the grass, on the seats and down the slide.
“This is terrible because children and dogs could be walking in this, and they could sustain nasty injuries.
“If the park has additional lighting it would encourage troublemaking youngsters in the evenings to move on.”
Could solar power be the answer for?
The Conservative councillor said she was “disappointed with such a negative report” from the council’s park’s department.
She accused officers of “dismissing out of hand” a proposal “clearly” backed by residents.
Mrs Owen suggested installing new lights on the middle path of the park, around the play area and down by the two small bridges leading to Meiklemill.
She believes solar lighting could be the way forward as it would keep carbon emissions down and could even be turned off at a certain time.
Plea to speak to young people about their troubles
Councillor Isobel Davidson said there was “merit” in looking at the issue further as it would help to “change the atmosphere” in the park.
And Louise McAllister backed the proposal for solar lighting – but asked if there was more that could be done to address anti-social behaviour.
She explained: “I wonder if there is a better, cheaper option of engaging with young people and seeing what can be done to encourage them away from feeling the need to break the bottles down the slide and whatnot.”
Not all young people are rogues…
Mrs Owen, chairwoman of the council’s education committee, agreed that some children have had a tough time.
She said: “Please don’t think I’m having a go at all the youngsters because it’s not all of them.
“I totally understand that over the last two years with the pandemic all young people have had a hard time.
“Finding something to do has been an issue.”
Following unanimous support at the meeting, a report on the matter is expected to come back to the committee in three months time.