Cash boost in drive to fight teen drinking

PROJECTS that tackle the underage boozing culture have been given a £300,000 cash injection from West Lothian Council.

The local authority approved the 2012/13 spend this week which is an increase of £64,600 on last year.

All ward areas will share £245,000, the popular Midnight Football scheme will receive a £37,000 boost, and the West Lothian Youth Action Project Summer Programme will be given £18,000.

A lot of work on under-age drinking in Linlithgow is done by the Linlithgow Young People’s Project (LYPP).

Pam Melstrom at the LYPP welcomed the funding, adding: “Money is needed in Linlithgow as much as anywhere else. As part of the Linlithgow Youth Issues Group, we work with schools, churches, clubs, Xcite Linlithgow and the police to share information on how to tackle the problem.

‘‘Young people want to experiment and push boundaries. Some know how to mask the problem, and there can be underlying issues that need to be addressed such as health, habitual behaviour and their home environment. “We want young people to be educated better about the decisions they make.”

The Peel can be a favoured drinking spot for young people, and a Historic Scotland spokesman said: “There can be issues with anti-social drinking in Linlithgow Peel, including broken benches and smashed bottles.

‘’Our rangers patrol the area to help tackle this and submit reports to the police.”

Local police closely monitor the issue but see improvements with ongoing projects in the town.

Inspector John Jackson said: “There are regular hot spots that are targeted by young people but, over the last five years, we have seen a big reduction in under-age drinking in this area.

‘‘We do drug and alcohol talks at Linlithgow Academy, it is tackled by Safer Neighbourhood teams at weekends, and the West Lothian wide Operation Floorwalk.”

David MacKenzie at Linlithgow Academy added: “We cover this issue with all pupils through our PSE programme, and we also deal with ‘individual’ cases who may be referred to us, and this could include close inter-agency working, particularly with the West Lothian Drugs and Alcohol Team.”

In the council funding boost, Linlithgow has been allocated £15,190 for 2012/13, and the Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh ward will receive £18,375, to tackle the issue.

Some local projects that could benefit include a Linlithgow Academy group for school leavers; a LYPP run cafe at Bridgend on Thursday evenings; Code Red Disco where around 100 kids go on the first Friday of the month, football sessions at Xcite Leisure Centre, and Midnight Football in Livingston with transport for local kids. Final decisions on the projects will be made next week.

The council’s ‘Strategy to Tackle Under Age Drinking’ was created in 2008 and focusses on providing young people with education on alcohol and drugs, and diversionary activities on Friday afternoons and evenings.