Edinburgh residents furious as streets near the Meadows are treated as public toilets

Residents near the Meadows have spoken of the "beyond appalling" situation where people are brazenly treating their streets as toilets in broad daylight and threatening them if challenged.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am

They say they suffered the same problem last summer, but it started again last week and they fear it is going to get worse as the evenings get lighter and the weather improves.

"We dread the good weather," said one woman, who claims people her street is referred to as "P*ss Alley".

The residents said there were not enough public loos in the area and described the Meadows on a sunny day as "Glastonbury with no toilets".

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A scene near the Meadows last Wednesday

Nick Munro, who lives in Roseneath Place, said his street was a scene of "carnage" for a couple of weeks at the end of last summer.

"It was shocking, there were people pooing, peeing - 10 or 15 at a time - straight opposite our windows. We were trying to chuck buckets of water at them and we were getting threatened.

"I got threatened they were going to beat me up because I was standing at the window shouting 'Can you not do this?'”

Mr Munro said they were mostly 16-20 year-olds.

Residents say the problem is constant

"It's men and women – girls just come up the street in groups of four, two of them will keep a look out and the other two will hide behind a car or something, but it's right in front of our windows, it's so brazen.

"We dial 101 and the police think we're talking about an isolated incident and say thanks for letting us know, but it's actually like a culturally-embedded thing – our street is now the toilet."

He said the problem this year started last Wednesday. A neighbour took a picture of a line of men publicly urinating on the street.

"This is a family area – there are three schools – and at 3pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we were all taking our kids home from primary school and walking past people urinating at face level with them."

Women as well as men use the street as a toilet

He said things were only going to get worse. "Last week, as soon as it got dark it gets cold and everyone seems to clear away, but in the summer it's going to be going on into the night."

And he is not covinced that the relaxing of Covid restrictions will make this year any better than last.

"The easing of lockdown is going to be so gradual, you're not going to have hundreds of people in pubs – there are still going to be a lot in the Meadows. I don't think we'll see significant change until next year."

He believes the public toilets need to be upgraded.

One resident says she has to step over puddles of pee every time she goes out

"There was a queue of 40 for the toilets on Saturday. They need to be quadrupled in size.

"This is a fairly well-off area - I reckon we could crowd-fund the money for a toilet but we couldn't implement it. I know loads of people round here who would gladly give £150 each."

Another resident who asked not to be named said she had lived in the area for 40 years and said the problem had got a lot worse recently but started when the council decided to allow barbecues on the Meadows.

"For barbecues read drinking lots of alcohol. Now they don't bother with the barbecue they just bring their cans.

"People come from all over Edinburgh to drink – it has become known as a favoured drinking area.

“To get into my house I have to step over puddles. It's beyond appalling.

"And it's not just a few. It's not just random people caught short. I counted 14 people just in the time it took me to write an email. One of my neighbours saw 19 in 15 minutes.

"We’ve heard them call it P*ss Alley.

"Every time you open your gate or come home from anywhere you encounter people peeing and if you tell them to go away sometimes they become aggressive.

“It's constant, it's hideous – it's blighting our lives. We dread the good weather.

“I can't tell you how appalling it is - and the stench. It's just disgusting. It's out of control.”

She said there were not enough toilets, inadequate direction signs and people said they wouldn’t use them because they were “dirty and creepy”.

“The council will not license pubs, restaurants, cafes or festivals unless they have a certain number of toilets based on numbers, whereas on the Meadows it can be like a music festival and there's one toilet.”

She said another woman had been threatened on Saturday by a man, one of a group of four who came to pee in her street. The woman said she would photograph them and the man said he would "show you what I've got in my back pocket".

Inspector Norman Towler said: "We are aware of concerns of anti-social behaviour raised by residents living near to the Meadows and our officers continue to carry out regular patrols of the area.

“Anti-social behaviour is always taken seriously and where it is clear to us that there is a particular issue in an area, we will devote the appropriate resources and work alongside our partners to try to tackle the problem.

"It is a minority of people that are getting involved in this kind of anti-social behaviour. It is not acceptable and those identified responsible will be dealt with.

"If anyone has any concerns about anti-social behaviour I would encourage them to call 101 or 999 in an emergency."

Environment vice-convener Karen Doran said the reports were “very worrying and absolutely disgusting”.

“There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour anywhere in the city. I’d encourage anyone experiencing any anti-social behaviour like this to report it immediately to Police Scotland.”

She said public toilets were open in the Meadows (East) and Bruntsfield Links from 11am to 6pm.

“Use the public toilets that are open. It goes without saying that if there isn’t one open where you are, hold it in till you get home.”

Chief Inspector Sam Ainslie, Local Area Commander for the South East of Edinburgh, said: "As the Local Area Commander, I am saddened by the number of antisocial behaviour incidents reported to police within the last week, with concerns tending to be focused around the Meadows.

"Given the challenges of the last few months, local communities should be able to enjoy our open green spaces, in accordance with the current guidelines. Disappointingly, the selfish and sometimes reckless behaviour of a small minority continues to have a negative impact on others. This includes, but is not limited to, drink-related disorder.

"Community safety remains an established priority and we will continue to work with our partners, including the City of Edinburgh Council, retail premises and transport providers, to combat antisocial behaviour in all its forms.

"Local officers will continue to remain visible in the area, whether that be on mobile, foot, or indeed cycle patrol.

"I would encourage the public, if you observe or witness criminality in the area, to help us hold offenders to account by contacting Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

"I'd like to thank the vast majority of people for following the regulations, whilst they remain in place. As ever, our officers will engage with the public, explain the current coronavirus guidance and encourage compliance, where necessary."

* Police say four teenage girls have been charged in connection with an assault against three other girls in the Meadows on Sunday around 7pm. All four youths aged, 13, 16, 16 and 17- years-old, will be reported through the appropriate youth justice process.

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