West Lothian crime: Bathgate Hill Top car park could close at nights after smart bin set on fire twice
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The Hill Top car park in the Bathgate hills could be closed at night after the £4,000 smart bin at the site was set on fire for a second time.
West Lothian Council cleansing crews are now having to attend three times a week to clear the car park, also known as Gordon’s View, Bathgate Local Area committee heard. Said to be a popular spot for star gazing, the car park is also a magnet for car loads of teenagers at night, and fast food packaging litters the site.
The car park, off a quiet back road high above the northern edge of the town, has also been used regularly for fly-tipping. But local councillor, the SNP’s Willie Boyle, said he would have concerns about proposals to close the car park – arguing that it wouldn’t deter littering in the Bathgate hills – and questioned why an expensive smart bin had been left in such a remote spot.
He told the meeting: “I’m concerned about attempts to close the car park. Why would we put a £4000 bin in remote car park where it might better serve in a built up area. Putting it in a remote area it’s being left to be vandalised.”
Operations manager Andy Johnston explained the smart bin had been put there to collect the fast food cartons that make up the bulk of the rubbish being left. The bin compacts the rubbish and alerts council staff when it is full and needs to be emptied.” Mr Johnston said: “There was a lengthy debate about whether the gate should be open or closed at night. In the last six or seven months there’s been a fair amount of vandalism. The smart bin has been set on fire a couple of times, vandalised and fence posts torn down. On three or four occasions we have had to go up and clear fly tipping. It’s costing the council time and money to manage the car park.”
He pointed out that other car parks are locked at night and there had been a significant drop in littering and vandalism in the locked car parks. Mr Johnston said it was time to review the situation and promised consultation with the community before any decision is made.
The car park was first opened after a campaign by the town’s community council, on which Councillor Boyle served at the time. It is named Gordon’s View after a fellow member of the community council . A report to the local area committee said: “A barrier was placed on Hill Top / Gordon’s View Car Park back in 2020 due to ongoing anti-social issues in the car park, both pre, through and post Covid. The barrier was locked at night briefly and this stopped these issues, however this solution was overturned in 2021 and it was agreed that the situation would be monitored.”
Councillor Boyle said any trip through the Bathgate Hills would reveal McDonalds bags lying at the side of the road and suggested it was easier to collect rubbish from the car park than pull it out of ditches on narrow county roads. “It’s a societal problem, and one we have to manage the best we can,” he told the meeting.
Councillor Bolyle said he was “fundamentally opposed” to the closing of the car park on the strength of complaints from neighbours. Mr Johnston said the review had been decided on because of the number of incidents of vandalism and the cost of having to clean up the car park on a weekly basis. He reiterated that no decision would be taken without consultation, including with the community council.