Oct 19 2011 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A ONE-TIME hot spot for illicit activity in the centre of Stirling has been given a new lease of life thanks to new street lighting, it has been claimed.
Bright, florescent white bulbs were recently fitted in Cowane Street Lane – an alley which links Cowane Street and Bruce Street – in place of the dull, neon yellow ones used previously.
The improvements form part of the ongoing City Centre North Action Plan, a multi-agency project designed to breathe new life into the heart of Stirling.
Central Scotland Police community officer Fraser Gordon, whose beat centres on the area the action plan encompasses, said he’d already begun to receive positive feedback.
PC Gordon added that the fact locals, who in his words once dubbed Cowane Street Lane a “gauntlet” and a “no-go area”, were now using the alley, spoke volumes.
The officer continued: “An elderly woman parked her car in the lane when I was out on patrol one night – I’d never seen a car parked in it before – and immediately told me that, due to the new lighting in the lane, she now felt safe parking there.
“She was extremely complimentary in relation to the work carried out so far as part of the action plan.
“On a separate occasion, I spoke to a young single mother who lives in Cowane Street Lane and she also stated that she was delighted with the new lighting.
“She said she now felt safe to use the lane at night to go to Tesco, instead of walking the long way round from the front of Cowane Street.
“I’ve seen a large increase in the number of vehicles being parked in the lane after dark, and also noticed more people using the lane in the evenings, in particular, students from the flats in Bayne Street.
“From a policing prospective, the new lighting has made my job a lot easier. It is now possible to see all the way down the lane after dark.
“A number of undesirable people from outwith the area, who previously used to loiter in the lane at night, no longer do so. This, in my view, has been the most positive impact.”
Councillor Jim Thomson, the local authority’s environment spokesperson, said: “I’m delighted that these changes, which are small in terms of cost, have made a significant impact on the community.
“This, along with other environmental improvements planned, will enhance safety in the area and ensure the wider community feels proud of the area in which they live.
“I hope this will only increase as we tackle other social problems that exist here, in partnership with the police, health service and other agencies.”
Community warden Tony Stickings voiced his approval for the new florescent lighting at a recent meeting of the Mercat Cross and City Centre Community Council.
He said: “You can see the whole way down the lane now, and you really notice a difference when you move on to Cowane Street itself where they’ve still got the yellow lights in.”
Mercat Cross and City Centree Community Council chairman David Black informed last week’s gathering that a series of improvements are set to be implemented throughout the area - starting from Monday, October 24.
Residents praised the multiple agencies involved in the action plan and called on the wider community to get behind the scheme.