ANGUS Council parks department personnel removed the benches from in front of the Sheriff Court on Arbroath High Street on Monday.
The action was taken after months of complaints, many from elderly people visiting the nearby post office, who felt intimidated by those crowding round the courthouse door and sitting on the seats.
Local businesses also felt that the crowds loitering at the court did not present the kind of image of Arbroath that people wanted to see. They too had consistently made complaints about littering and foul language.
Arbroath councillor Donald Morrison praised Angus Council for getting rid of the problem.
He went on: “Some people may be unhappy to see the removal of seating in the town centre but these benches which faced the court entrance were a magnet for crowds who had no reason to be near the court to hang around.
“Having been inundated with complaints about the benches from local residents and visitors who felt intimidated and threatened having to pass through the crowds at the court, all the Arbroath councillors have been working together as part of the town regeneration group which also includes the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council, retailers and businesses to have the seating removed.
“However, in order to deter crowds further from gathering, the council, court service and police need to continue to work together.”
And his colleague, councillor David Fairweather, was in full agreement.
He explained: “Removing the seats which provided a focal point for people to congregate in front of the Sheriff Court was brought forward by the town centre regeneration group, the Arbroath Area Partnership, the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council and all the political parties.
“I am delighted that the horrible seats where people sat around drinking and making a nuisance of themselves have now gone. Hopefully the area will now be more welcoming if the crowds which used to gather there can be kept away.
“I hope that the police and community wardens will be keeping a close eye on people who gather in that area, and will prevent them from behaving badly and stop them littering the streets.”
Councillor Morrison and his Arbroath colleagues were also pressing council officials to tidy the remaining public seating around the town centre and if possible look at areas where new seating could be provided.
A council spokesperson commented: “Some complaints had been made about people loitering outside Arbroath Sheriff Court so the four benches have been removed to discourage people from gathering there.
“Elsewhere in the High Street the council will be refurbishing the public seating, replacing some of the benches and repairing and repainting others.”