A clean-up operation kicked off this week to clear away syringes which litter a drug users’ shooting gallery in a derelict football ground.
Since closing down in 2008 and being partially demolished in 2012, the former East Stirlingshire FC Firs Park ground has been a magnet for fly tippers and drug addicts, who have been gathering in the site’s old toilet block to take heroin and other substances.
A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We have had on-going involvement with this particular area for some time. On Monday the council carried out a clean up of the area and will continue to work with the landowner to secure the site and reduce the potential for further anti-social activities.”
Councillor Robert Bissett, who was involved in the clean up with Councillor Dennis Goldie, said police told him they had to attend at the Stewart Road, Victoria Road, Birnam Place and Firs Street area a total of 241 times in a year.
“It’s definitely a hot spot they are aware of,” he said. “Some residents say they’ve had drug users shooting up in their close and then lying in front of their door. This is a big issue that needs to be dealt with and it’s an ongoing process.”
Firs Park landowner Alan Mackin has agreed to arrange the demolition of the ground’s toilet block and turnstile area.
“First we did a clean up, then we demolish the remaining structures and then we put up a fence around what’s left,” said Mr Bissett, who is one of the driving forces behind the return of the Stewart Road Area Community Group, which supports the Firs Park clean up.
He said: “Someone approached me last year to see if we could get it going again and it has a mission statement of trying to bring a sense of community back to the area.”
During Monday’s clean up operation, a team from Signpost Recovery were on site to speak to drug users and make them aware of the help and support available to them. The team also spoke to local residents to let them know what is going on.
According to Signpost there are an estimated 2562 problem drug users in Falkirk aged 15 to 64 – that’s 1.6 per cent of the population. This is compared to 1.1 per cent in Scotland as a whole.
Drug-related deaths in Falkirk doubled in 2016 with the majority related to heroin and, according to national statistics, between 2011 and 2015 Falkirk averaged 12 drugs-related deaths per year.
Visit www.facebook.com/makingitbetterforus for more information on the Stewart Road Area Community Group.
You can also log onto www.signpostrecovery.org.uk or call (01324) 227558 if you need advice or support about drug issues.