Businesses left to count cost of gang's graffiti rampage

VANDALS have gone on a late-night graffiti spree, leaving a retail park and surrounding buildings covered in gang signs.

Dozens of "tags" were left on walls, shops and the main entrance to Meadowbank Shopping Centre after the rampage on Monday night.

Local businesses said that the vandals had taken advantage of the cold snap.

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Local resident James Foley said the new graffiti ran from the main display signs at the front of the Meadowbank Shopping Centre down London Road and along to Easter Road.

He said: "From the retail park all the way to Easter Road, someone has sprayed their tag all over Meadowbank.

"I am sure they are using the cold snap to avoid detection and the possibility of having it removed any time soon. This is not Banksy, it is litter."

Among those affected was Damian Gasiorowski, whose White Eagle store on Earlston Place had an offensive word daubed on its shutter by yobs.

The 35-year-old said: "It must have been during the night because when I closed up there was nothing there.

"There is graffiti covering a wall below the bridge across the road and I'm sure it's the same people.

"The style is almost exactly the same. It's a bit of a nightmare. It's hard enough to get someone out to clean the windows at the moment, let alone remove that."

Mahmood Tariq, 45, who manages the Lifestyle shop on the same side of the street added: "There is some right here outside the store and there is quite a lot in the area.

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"There aren't many young people from here that cause trouble but you do get them coming down from Lochend looking for trouble."

Meadowbank councillor Gary Peacock said the vandalism spree would set businesses back and make the area look run down. He appealed for local residents to be vigilant against antisocial behaviour.

He said: "It's very regrettable to hear this. I use Meadowbank and it's a much-valued place in the area.

"It's open right into the evening and this sort of thing does run the area down and make it less attractive.

"We want people to be out there keeping the economy going not worrying about this kind of thing.

"I can also appreciate that this isn't something that business owners need to be dealing with.

"I think with the worse weather there's been fewer people around and normally there are more people around.

"We do have a good community safety team who do a lot and I hope people will be vigilant."

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A police spokeswoman said that local patrols visited business owners regularly and that any residents could report any antisocial behaviour anonymously to Crimestoppers.