Schools left counting cost of vandals' wrecking spree
VANDALS have carried out a "mindless" wrecking spree at a city primary school campus, smashing 34 windows and causing £23,000 worth of damage.
• Heads Margot MacAlister of St Francis Head, left, and Sadie Miller of Niddrie Mill
The attack took place on the joint campus of Niddrie Mill and St Francis primaries in Craigmillar.
Today the city's education leader said the vandalism was "difficult to stomach" and vowed to do everything possible to catch the culprits.
Staff discovered the damage when they turned up to work on Tuesday, following the holiday on Monday.
St Francis Primary suffered the most damage, with 20 of its windows being smashed. Fourteen windows were smashed at Niddrie Mill.
It is unclear exactly when the vandals struck, but it was some time between Friday and Tuesday morning.
Education leader Marilyne MacLaren said: "This act of mindless vandalism is difficult to stomach as it is an attack on two of our most beautifully designed school buildings, which are assets to the community.
"The money to replace the broken windows would have been much better spent in the classrooms or on extra- curricular activities for pupils.
"We will do everything we can to track down the perpetrators. In this regard I would urge anyone who knows anything about this incident to report it to the police immediately."
The joint campus opened at the end of August, 2008. The 16 million horseshoe-shaped building became the heart of Craigmillar's major regeneration project after 18 months of construction.
Craigmillar councillor Maureen Child described the attack on the schools as a "devastating blow". She said: "Instances of vandalism seem to have reduced in recent months and over the year, so it's hugely disappointing and very upsetting that this has happened.
"The schools are fantastic facilities for the children, the staff and the whole community.
"It's a devastating blow to come in and discover this has happened. We have to ask why and ask what satisfaction anyone would get out of it? It's inexplicable. It's not indicative of what the community is like."
Pupils' education was not disrupted because the school was closed for in-service training on Tuesday and the mess had been cleared up by the time children returned.
The old Niddrie Mill school, a Victorian building which is going to be turned into flats, has been plagued by vandalism while standing empty since the children moved into the new campus in 2008.
In March 2009, a huge blaze was started deliberately which destroyed two 1970s buildings to the rear.The Evening News revealed last year that during a five-year period between November 2004 and 2009, just over 22,000 of damage was caused by vandals at Niddrie Mill, while St Francis experienced just under 3000 of damage.
A police spokeswoman said a "positive line of inquiry" was being followed. "We would appeal for information to anyone who may have seen something suspicious."
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