A tourist town has called for teenagers to be banned from celebrating Hogmanay – claiming drunk youths on the rampage are putting people off staying in hotels.
Boozed up teens are being blamed for “intimidating” locals with “out of control” behaviour in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, amid claims it is harming the tourist industry.
Visitors are drawn to the picturesque town for its historic attractions including a ruined abbey, the former home of writer Sir Walter Scott and an annual literary festival.
But the town, named the best place to live in Scotland in 2018, has not hosted an official fireworks bash since 2017 – when nearly 200 teens turned up.
Police said parents have a responsibility to stop their children drinking on the street during the celebrations, but it did little to reassure angry residents at a community council meeting, who called for a “heavy-handed” approach.
Butcher shop owner Martin Baird said he was astonished his shop window remained intact after the New Year’s Eve antics.
Mr Baird, a community councillor, said: “It’s terrible, and it’s getting worse year-on-year.
“People are saying they are not coming back next year to stay in the hotels.
“There’s enough pressure on the High Street as it is, without all this going on.
“I do feel for the police in this situation – what if it all kicks off and they jump on you guys?”
The meeting heard that two youths were arrested.
The town’s local police officer, PC Wilson, was not on duty on Hogmanay but said resources were stretched.
PC Wilson said: “There were six police officers there, and there are two arrests made.
“That means four officers would have to leave the scene, leaving two officers and 198 youths.”
Community council chairman William Windram asked: “You’re not telling us police are allowing criminal activity to take place in the square?”
PC Wilson responded: “We are trying to do the best we can with the resources we have.
“There is a degree of responsibility on the parents of these children.
“It’s midnight, and their kids are out on the street drinking.”
Concerned resident Val Miller said: “It is a pity the message has not got through even after two years of not having fireworks.”
She added: “Can we request extra police presence at New Year?
“Come down heavy-handed on the whole situation?”
But PC Wilson replied: “There are only so many extra police officers in the Borders, and there are a lot of towns.”