Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Bonnie Bonnie Banks ...

Whenever I drive along the A82 out of or into Glasgow, I'm struck by the contrast between the 'schemes' of Dumbarton and the glorious scenery of Loch Lomond just up the road. Why don't the youth abandon the jellies and Buckie, get out into the dowie dens and get some healthy outdoor excercise ?

I see. They are.

Scotland's first national park is to ban camping in three beauty sports in a bid to eradicate violence and vandalism at drunken parties. The tough measures proposed by the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority (NPA) will herald an end to the right to virtually unfettered access to one of Scotland's most popular visitor destinations. Having pursued policies weighed in favour of conservation and education, the NPA now believes greater prevention and enforcement is necessary to meet its long-term goals of easing visitor pressure and "eliminate" the drunkenness, vandalism, criminal damage and assault plaguing the bonnie banks... "It's the type of camping that wasn't envisaged when the Scottish Outdoor Access Code came into being" said park ranger Graeme Archibald. "It was supposed to allow people to go out into the countryside and enjoy it, not turn up with alcohol and party all weekend."

Enforcement officials working on the ground in Loch Lomond told Scotland on Sunday that the current system of funding rangers and police officers to patrol the park's 720 square miles is "not sustainable" in the long term. Instead, they insist, officials need the "right tools in the toolbox", pointing to a catalogue of crime and anti-social behaviour over the summer season. It includes one incident where a fight between two groups in Sallochy Bay quickly escalated. As a result, a lit barbecue was thrown through the window of a car, destroying the vehicle. On some evenings, as many as 90 people can congregate at Sallochy, most of them under the influence of alcohol.
Hmm. And acccording to the comments, it's just as bad down at Loch Doon, not so far away from Auchinleck.

4 comments:

Martin said...

Laban,

I know that part of Scotland quite well. I practiced for three years at a firm in the Vale of Leven; although you can see bits of Bonhill from the bypass (on the right going north after the main roundabout on Garshake Road), most of it is hidden.

As one of my former clients described it at the time, it's 13 housing schemes built around one factory; now the factory, Polaroid, has, to the best of my knowledge and belief, gone.

Although I can only agree with you about the area's natural beauty (in the pre-mobile age, it used to be a blessed relief to be able to drive up the lochside to Luss to lie doggo for a while), even 14 years ago it was becoming a rural slum. My old boss once said that 40% of the Vale's residents existed on Income Support. Can't remember where he got the number from, but it wouldn't be surprising and would be even less surprising if it weren't higher now.

True story from the Vale of Leven - a gunman walks in to the Central Bar in Renton and blasts his victim. Upon realising he's in the wrong pub, however, he then shouts 'Oh, F*ck' and heads up to Gillespie's in Bonhill, where he tries to repeat the trick.

Not a very nice fate for the hometown of Tobias Smollett, or the first in Scotland to have a car factory.

Laban said...

I just looked on the Web - Polaroid US went bust, the factory's shut - although another firm makes 'Polaroid' specs there - and the pension scheme's being propped up by the Pension Protection scheme.

"Polaroid’s factory in Strathleven was once the area’s largest employer.

The site is now occupied by Polaroid Eyewear International, which is a separate entity owned by leading US sunglasses manufacturer StyleMark."

Anonymous said...

Loch Doon is a special case.

Due to some long-forgotten legal quirk, the residents of the nearby town of Dalmellington (90% or more of which is "schemes") have an inalienable right to go and camp there.

And boy, do they take up that right. The loch side is full of caravans occupied all summer long by those who have a "right" to be there, and God help anyone who tries to make them move on, or behave, or even just visits the area. Of course, we are all paying for their pleasures.

It is truly a frightening place.

Hugh Oxford said...

Yes but Scotland is huge, and the trick is to go the extra distance the underclass can't be bothered to go.

I recently enjoyed a very drunk, but very civilised stag weekend near Ben Nevis.