Shetland Islands Council is set to ban troublemakers from the Viking Bus Station in Lerwick for up to six months in an attempt to address increasing complaints from bus users about anti-social behaviour.
Air, bus and vehicle fleet manager David Polson said the problem was largely caused by groups of young people who gather and hang around the Commercial Road building and bus park several times a week.
While they usually do no real harm their boisterous behaviour is intimidating for others. The new exclusion orders would only be for the “one or two individuals who won’t take a telling” and persistently break the rules.
Mr Polson told the SIC infrastructure committee today that most of the groups of youngsters went on the buses themselves but a good percentage were from Lerwick and only used the station as an HQ to meet up with others.
Councillor Gary Robinson suspected some of them were the same troublemakers he has to deal with at the Clickimin Centre, where he works.
There have been a number of incidents of public disorder at the bus station over the past 16 months, including a drunk teenage girl fighting with police officers, two drunk eastern European men brawling in broad daylight, a man being headbutted by a teenager, a policeman being obstructed and a bin being set on fire.
The committee agreed to the use of the powers granted to the council under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act of 1982. The exclusion orders will be issued by the council’s licensing sub-committee.
Councillor Jonathan Wills said it was deplorable that the bus station problem had arisen but young people – and some not so young – did lark about. His concern was that the council was drifting into an area which was best left to the police.
However, Mr Polson said council workers had enough on their hands without becoming policemen. The measures might look like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but there was a need to put something in place to deal with the worst troublemakers, short of involving the police and the courts and giving criminal records.
Councillor Cecil Smith was far from convinced anybody would pay attention to an order signed by him, as chairman of the licensing sub-committee. He felt that if people were breaching the peace they should be taken away by the police.
But, delivering one of his timely history lessons, convener Sandy Cluness reminded members that in the old days the council used to deal with petty offenders by bringing them before councillors in the Town Hall for correction. Usually the fine handed down was the princely sum of 10 shillings which, for our younger readers, is 50p.