Goma goths banned - heaven knows they're miserable now

WITH their black clothes, white faces and mournful expressions they have become an instantly recognisable part of life in Scotland's city centres.

But now Glasgow's goths have a genuine reason to look miserable.

City leaders have branded them a threat to economic prosperity and have launched a bid to bar them from their favourite hangout.

For years dozens of outlandishly dressed youngsters have made Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square in the city centre their second home.

But now the council has accused them of intimidating shoppers and being behind a rise in anti-social behaviour.

In a bid to move the youngsters on they have cordoned off steps between Borders bookshop and the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) - a favourite goth gathering point. Security guards have been brought in to supervise the area. A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Royal Exchange Square is one of the jewels in Glasgow's crown.

"In recent months, however, there has been the risk of the Square, and in particular the steps at the western end, becoming a focus for anti-social behaviour.

"In consultation with businesses in the Square it was decided to cordon off the steps.

"This measure will remain in place for as long as is necessary to ensure it remains one of the country's premier locations for shopping and entertainment."

A council insider said: "Royal Exchange Square is a gateway between our premier shopping locations and, as such, is incredibly important to us.

"We need it be a nice, safe area for the people who are walking through it. We have had complaints about teenagers gathering there and there were allegations about drinking, drug-taking and inappropriate behaviour. So far the measures we have taken seem to have helped."

But youngsters who are refusing to leave the area, which is full of exclusive shops and eateries, claim the council's tactics were heavy-handed, discriminatory and unnecessary.

One teenage girl said: "There is absolutely no way we are here to cause trouble.

"We are too young to go to the pub and we hang around here for the simple reason that we have nowhere else to go to chat and meet up with our friends.

"It's laughable that Glasgow City Council regards us some sort of threat to society simply because we choose to dress differently."

Her purple-haired friend added: "There are so many real problems with violence in Glasgow yet the city council is spending money sending security guards to intimidate groups of well-behaved teenagers.

"I suppose they see us as an easy target. We are meant to be the friendly, welcoming Commonwealth Games city, but we are clearly not welcome here."

The alternative teenage tribes of Royal Exchange Square, including punks, emo-kids and metal-heads, have become such a part of the city life that in 2003 they were featured in a BBC documentary entitled Glasgow's Goth Kids.

Work created by the youngsters has been displayed at the nearby Goma.

Last year a study conducted by Dr Dunja Brill concluded that goths were largely sensitive youngsters who eschewed violence and were more likely to get good grades and go on to higher education.