THE chair of the Helensburgh Skatepark Project has slammed a council report which linked the opening of a temporary facility on the seafront to a rise in anti-social behaviour at the nearby public toilets.

An Argyll and Bute Council official stated in a briefing to councillors that antisocial behaviour at the toilets has risen since the skate park reopened at the waterfront last month.

This has included the locking mechanism being broken.

However, Jackie Hood, of the Helensburgh Skatepark Project, rejected the idea of any connection between the facility's reopening and the vandalism.

The details feature in a weekly report given to councillors by roads and infrastructure services staff on the council.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

The report said: “Unfortunately, since the introduction of the skatepark on the former leisure centre site, we have seen an increase in anti-social behaviour and littering, which is creating additional demands for our teams.

“We are also seeing the toilets being regularly abused.

"In addition to the type of abuse you might think of, someone had damaged the locking mechanism for the new access control system – they appear to have used a screwdriver or chisel to try to remove the entire locking system.

“As a result we had to open up the toilets until the contractor could come and replace the mechanism.

"As of this morning (Friday, May 24) they are operating normally again and taking payment.”

When contacted for a response, Ms Hood said: "I cannot believe that the re-installation of the skatepark equipment is being blamed for this.

"It is such an easy target and the kids can’t defend themselves.

" I have seen no evidence of anti-social behaviour at the skate park. I would love to hear exactly what form this behaviour has taken and how they can be so sure it is skate park users. All the people using the park are there to ride it, not cause trouble.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

"The skate park going in coincided with the first period of nice weather we have had this year. I would suggest the littering and anti-social behaviour is more a result of an increase in day trippers due to the good weather.

"The seafront can be a disgrace after a hot, sunny day with the overflowing bins and dropped litter left by visitors.

"I had one message about litter at the skate park. I contacted the council and they installed two bins by the end of that day. I have had no further reports since then.

"I have had nothing but positive feedback about the skate park. I have received many personal messages, and messages on the skate park Facebook page, saying how great it is to see the skatepark back where it was originally.

"Parents have commented in particular about how the older riders help and encourage the younger ones and what an inclusive, friendly atmosphere there is.

"The report seems to imply that the damage to the toilet doors has been caused by having the skate park there. Why would someone coming to ride a skate park bring a chisel or screwdriver with them?

Helensburgh Advertiser:

"What evidence does the council have to blame the vandalism of the toilet doors on kids who ride the skate park?

"It is much more likely to be either a disgruntled local or again, a day-tripper, annoyed at having to pay to use the loo.

 "Skate parks are easy targets. Teenagers are easy targets. Argyll and Bute Council do not want the skate park at the waterfront location, so of course they are going to take every opportunity to paint the park and its users in a bad light.

"The council wants to relocate the skate park to Kidston Park and may use this report as leverage. Public opinion was strongly in favour of the skate park staying where it currently is, due to the passive supervision provided by its location and also the economic benefit users bring to the town centre."

Councillor Fiona Howard (Labour, Helensburgh Central) said: "This is sad. It is always unfortunate when a small number of thoughtless people put a larger group of well behaved and socially conscious people under a shadow

"I am sure that these problems are being caused by a very small minority and I would ask that anyone who sees such anti-social behaviour taking place takes the time to report it so it can be nipped in the bud.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

"Vandalism and littering costs the council money to fix or clear up and if the money is being spent on these things it can't be spent on other services.

"Litter and vandalism is unsightly, sometimes even dangerous and does not give visitors the the correct impression of our beautiful town."

Her ward colleague, Liberal Democrat councillor Graham Hardie, added: "This is unfortunate and unacceptable.

"I hope the anti social behaviour and vandalism can be dealt with as soon as possible and the perpetrators caught by the authorities."