Dry bar hoped to end anti social behaviour in city parks
Joint project between Lothian and Borders Police and City of Edinburgh Council lets youths use alcohol-free pub
14 April 2011 18:52
A new initiative to reduce anti-social behaviour on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links is proving successful.
The dry bar, held at Edinburgh Napier University Union on Saturday nights, is giving young people an alcohol-free place to hang out.
Aimed at 12 to 16-year-olds, the weekly club, named ‘The Union’, has seen numbers grow since its launch five weeks ago, with 32 youngsters dropping by at one point.
Sgt Scott Casey, who is involved in the scheme, explains that local teenagers have been consulted at every step of the process to establish the bar.
“There was a problem on Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows with young people drinking alcohol and causing anti social behaviour. It’s very easy for us to move the kids on but we didn’t give them a viable alternative.
“We went down to Bruntsfield Links and asked them what they wanted in the area. The majority said they just wanted somewhere to hang out.
“We got a grant of £5000 from the council and we’ve been working with the Community Learning and Development department.
“We’ve been teaming up with youth workers and getting the kids into the bar.”
Closed to Edinburgh Napier University students on a Saturday night, teenagers get full use of the union on Merchiston Place and its plasma-screen TV, pool tables and lounge chairs.
Sgt Casey is hoping the appeal of the pub atmosphere will encourage youths to come along.
“We’re calling it ‘The Union’ - it’s basically a pub with no alcohol,” he said. “A lot of the kids think youth clubs are outdated. This is almost cooler, it’s not a church hall.
“And it’s giving them somewhere safe to go and keeping them off the streets - a lot of them are becoming victims of crime themselves.
"There's nothing else like this in the city”
Local groups, namely Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, have expressed dissatisfaction with anti social behaviour occurring in the area, and have recently campaigned against barbecues, which they believe lead to drinking.
Richard Ellis, secretary of the Morningside Community Council, commended the dry bar: “It’s a great idea,” he said. “ I think it’s a very interesting scheme, good luck to it.
“Speaking on behalf of the whole community council, we all really approve.”