Summit called as estate tackles antisocial scourge

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An action plan to curb antisocial behaviour on the Burnfoot housing estate in Hawick will be unveiled at a public meeting later this month.

The blueprint will bring together a range of initiatives discussed at a multi-agency gathering in the community school on Thursday.

Among those attending were the estate’s three representatives on Scottish Borders Council – Watson McAteer, Stuart Marshall and Alastair Cranston.

“We needed to get everyone together to agree how we can address a growing problem which is obviously upsetting for the vast majority of residents,” reflected Councillor McAteer, a former divisional police commander.

“Children as young as nine and as old as 18 have been going about terrorising local people and damaging buildings, fences and gardens.

“Although this disruptive behaviour is nothing new, the people of Burnfoot are really fed up with it and feel it’s time for action.”

On Thursday, the three councillors were joined by representatives of Police Scotland, SBC’s antisocial behaviour unit based at Newtown, youth workers and senior management from the estate’s two registered social landlords – SBHA and Waverley.

“A range of issues were discussed at what was a very positive and productive meeting,” said Mr McAteer.

“It was agreed we need an action plan to address a number of issues, not least the effectiveness or otherwise of the 101 emergency number and the opening hours of the police station in Hawick.

“There was a consensus that we need increased dedicated police patrols, with officers working closely on the ground with youth workers who will wear high visibility clothing and attempt to engage with young people.”

He said initiatives from each agency would be pulled together into an action plan which would be discussed at a public meeting in Burnfoot Community School on Tuesday, March 31, at 6.30pm.

Local MP Michael Moore and Borders MSPs John Lamont and Paul Wheelhouse will be invited to attend.

A community profile of Burnfoot, researched by SBC and published in August 2013, revealed a population of 3,594 of which 828 (or 23 per cent) were aged under 15 – much higher than the regional rate of 17.5 per cent.

The study showed that 26 per cent of the working age population were dependent on state benefits, compared to 12.5 per cent in the Borders as a whole, with the highest number of claimants (28.9 per cent) in the 25-49 age group.

School pupils from Burnfoot were, said the report, three times more likely to receive free school meals and twice as likely to need additional support in school than the Borders average.

“Pupils resident in Burnfoot are almost four times more likely to be excluded from school than the Borders average,” stated the study.