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Calls for police to deal with neighbourhood litter crisis

By Jamie Durent

The only litter bin in the area is full
The only litter bin in the area is full

POLICE should be called in to tackle a growing litter problem in an Inverness suburb, according to a community councillor.

John Lister, treasurer of Lochardil and Drummond community council, believes it is the only way to deter school children from dropping rubbish between Inverness Royal Academy (IRA) and the Asda supermarket at Slackbuie.

Residents are upset about the constant mess and blame pupils heading from the IRA in Culduthel to the store, particularly at lunchtime.

A trail of litter is being left along the route, in residential areas and in nearby woods.

The matter has come up frequently at community council meetings, prompting Highland councillor Alasdair Christie to lobby for a meeting of all interested parties in a bid to solve the problem.

Mr Lister, of Culduthel Mains Crescent, points the finger of blame firmly at academy pupils.

"I don’t believe the Gaelic school is allowed out of the grounds at lunchtime," he said.

"You often see pupils from the IRA heading to Asda. If it was just two or three pieces of litter you would say ‘Oh well’ and get on with it, But the state of it, it’s indiscriminate.

"I know it’s not a popular opinion but my solution would be to have a police presence to make sure litter laws are being obeyed.

"What’s the point of having them on the statute book if they’re not being used?"

Police have the power to caution anyone caught littering and can issue people a warning or a caution.

Highland Council can punish offenders with £50 fines and run regular education campaigns to stop people dropping rubbish.

The academy even ran a scheme early last year which involved students being given tokens every time they used litter bins, which Mr Lister labelled "unacceptable".

However, IRA rector Alastair McKinlay said getting police involved would be a step too far.

"In my mind it would be a bit extreme," he said.

"We recognise it’s an ongoing issue and it’s one we’ve had since Asda opened. Kids might be tempted by the two-for-one offers and buy more than they can consume. That could be when litter is being dropped.

"We’re more than happy to work with the community to come to a solution as we don’t want to be causing problems for anyone. I think we’ve got quite a good reputation and we’ve not had any complaints since the new year.

"The council have put on assemblies for us, telling the pupils not just about the immediate effect of dropping litter but how it affects the environment. We’ll keep bringing it to the fore and reminding children to use the bins."

Councillor Christie has picked up litter himself but did not wish to assign blame to the school. He said the issue needed to be addressed.

"It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it, absolutely," he said.

"Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to use the bins provided and minimise litter blowing around the area. Maybe the bins are being used, or maybe they’re being ignored.

"I think there needs to be a meeting between the schools, the councillors, local residents and the community council.

"We need to find out if the bins are in the right place and what we can do about the problems we’ve been raising."

The local authority recently suggested its staff could be given the power to issue fines for littering and fly-tipping and proposes extending the powers from dedicated enforcement staff to include community wardens and possibly countryside rangers.

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