Appeal for Bonnyrigg youth shelters

Bill MacDonald (left) with local youngsters at the Haddington Youth Shelter.
Bill MacDonald (left) with local youngsters at the Haddington Youth Shelter.

A community councillor from Bonnyrigg is calling on Midlothian Council introduce youth shelters in the town, after visiting one in Haddington.

Bill MacDonald recently visited the £5,000 shelter for 12 people, which East Lothian Council built and installed.

In April Bonnyrigg Community Council agreed to urge Midlothian Council to consider the merits of providing such a facility for the youth of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade, particularly given how the group regularly hears from police about youths causing a nuisance and being moved on.

Bill added: “Having a shelter is also an opportunity for people to engage with local youths. Getting them to realise that the adult world is willing to listen to them.

“The community council is very much in favour of them. The resolution was passed unanimously.

“The East Lothian team brought in local businesses to pay for it. We have discussed it with McDonald’s and they have said they would be interested in some kind of sponsorship, but need the council to take the lead. So it’s their job to take the initiative. I’m just trying to raise awareness of this to help tackle antisocial behaviour.

“We would have to be very careful as to where we put it. It has to be where youngsters congregate. Perhaps the grass outside Tesco would be a good spot? Waverley Park could be ideal. They cost up to £10,000 and seat up to 20 youths. You can even get bluetooth.”

Recent local antisocial incidents included dog waste being thrown at the windows of Bonnyrigg Pavilion and the attack on a security guard at McDonald’s Hardengreen.

Bill revealed he has spoken to local youngsters about the prospect of having a youth shelter: “Coming back from Perth I got off the 31 at Bonnyrigg Toll to walk home. There were about a dozen youths round the back of Mr Moon’s shop opposite the toilets in Bonnyrigg.

“Four or five of them were female. Several smoking. Ages 13-17.

“I said to them that what they needed was a gang hut or youth shelter and several agreed. So I said we on the community council were aiming to try to get these for them, and they should tell the police that they would like to have them, the next time they were moved on.”

Councillor Russell Imrie, Midlothian Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for communities, said: “While this is an interesting idea, with the current budget constraints, we’d need to be sure it would be self-financing and there would be demand for it.”