COUNCILLORS have voiced concerns over large groups of young people descending on a Scottish village.

Townhill, near Dunfermline, Fife, has seen groups of young people congregating in the woods at the end of one street with most passing peaceably.

However, there are claims a small number have been aggressive and intimidating towards local residents – leaving the community feeling alone and vulnerable. 

“The vast majority are behaving quite well, but there’s been a small group that’s been quite aggressive and intimidating – damaging people’s property, trying to smash windows, and spitting at residents when residents have spoken to them,” Dunfermline North Tory councillor Gavin Ellis said. 

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Ellis claims that he saw a group of 10 young people on the CCTV footage attempting to rip down fencing at a local property when they assaulted the elderly resident – attempting to punch him. 

On the following night Ellis and another councillor were both called to the village to monitor the situation as young people were once again seen congregating in the woods.

By one estimate, there were 70 young people in total.

“We’re in this situation where there’s this small group that are towards the older end of being youths that are causing issues for Townhill residents. It’s quite rough, intimidating, and menacing behaviour,” Ellis said.

Both councillors say that an increased police presence is needed. 

Labour councillor Gordon Pryde was on site for approximately two and a half hours on Saturday night – and although he and a number of other people reported the situation to police via 101, there “didn’t appear to be any police presence coming into the village”. 

“I understand resources are stretched and they don’t have the police to react like that but I think now that we’ve got intelligence that this may be an issue on future weekends, we would like to see increased patrols on Friday and Saturday nights when it appears to be happening,” he said. 

Speaking for Police Scotland, Inspector Tommy Stenhouse said police are “aware of some recent reports of antisocial behaviour in this area”.

“The community policing team work closely with partners to address these issues, find meaningful solutions and direct young people away from this type of behaviour. We will take the appropriate action when incidents are reported and offenders are identified,” he said.

“Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police by calling 101 as promptly as possible.”

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According to LibDems councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder, she has also had reassurance from police that there will be bus station marshals in place in evenings from 6pm-10pm during the Easter holidays. 

Pryde and Ellis struggled to answer questions about why this is happening in Townhill and why it’s happening now because it’s complicated and it goes beyond the borders of the village and indeed beyond the borders of Fife. 

“Historically we have had groups of youths gather in Townhill woods, but that’s generally been local youths or youths from the [nearby] Dunfermline area. But now with the nation-wide free bus pass it allows children to travel any distance they wish,” Ellis stated.

“As we’ve seen across Scotland that has created problems with the way youths gather in large numbers. While the bus pass is a great idea, sometimes I don’t think it’s been fully thought through.” 

He added: “But then again it’s a small minority of youth that tarnishes the idea and ruins it for the vast majority of kids who are well behaved and use it responsibly.”