McDonald’s in Fort William has banned under-18s after 6pm over fears for staff safety.
Anyone under the age of 18 will not be allowed in store following reports of repeated bad behaviour from youngsters.
The Highland Cinema has also taken similar measures, banning specific young people.
McDonald’s has raised the matter with police in the Lochaber town, who have confirmed they are aware of a “small minority” who are having a negative impact on the area.
Ban ‘not an easy choice’
In a statement online, a spokesperson for McDonald’s wrote: “Due to recent events we have had to make the decision to not allow under 18s into the store after 6pm.
“This has not been an easy choice; however, we must put the wellbeing of our staff and customers first.
“We will not tolerate or normalise abusive behaviour towards our staff.”
The post continues: “Having tried various tactics and compromises with the culprits, we are left with no choice but to make a rule that affects all young people of Fort William, based on the actions of a few.
“As the nights get colder we want to be a safe and warm place for the young people of Fort William, but we cannot do this at the cost of our safety.
“I have met with local police today and they have agreed that this is the best plan of action for us currently.
“We hope to revise this decision in future.”
Youth disorder a ‘massive problem’
Councillor Angus MacDonald, who owns a number of businesses in the town including Highland Cinema, said it was not the first time the issue had been raised.
He told The Press and Journal: “Fort William has a massive problem with troublesome youths. Their names are known to us all.
“The Viewforth public Toilets have been repeatedly vandalised, the Highland Cinema has banned these kids, as has The Nevis Centre.
“Repeated calls to the police to intervene does not seem to result in action.”
Police said they are aware of the issue.
They said: “We are acutely aware of the disruptive effect that anti-social behaviour has on the community in Fort William
“Local officers work closely with partners to address these issues and find meaningful solutions to direct our young people away from harmful behaviours.
“It is worth stressing that the vast majority of young people do not come to the attention of police but we know that a small minority do sometimes become involved in anti-social behaviour and their actions can have a negative impact on the lives of local residents
“We are committed to encouraging people away from this kind of behaviour but will take appropriate action where incidents are reported and offenders identified.
“Anyone who has concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area is encouraged to contact police by calling 101 as promptly as possible.”
‘Shame it’s come to this’
Online, local residents have said the decision to ban young people is a shame but understandable.
Kelly Kennedy said: “I’m guessing this is only unaccompanied by an adult? Shame it’s come to this.”
While Emma Jane Henderson wrote: “That’s a shame for the kids that do behave but I totally understand.”
It is not the first time that young people have been blamed for bad behaviour in the town.
Back in 2018, “boy racers” were said to be causing havoc by revving up in the North End Car Park before driving at heavy speeds through the town.