A HUGE cannabis factory has been discovered above a popular children’s play centre after an undercover police raid in one of the city’s most exclusive postcodes.
Around 90 plants with a street value of £64,800 were found being grown in a loft space above Tiki Tots on Nile Grove, Morningside, after officers swooped following a tip-off.
Police said the operation – which involved the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit – was part of a wider drive to tackle serious crime.
It is understood plainclothed officers carried out the search just after 3pm on Tuesday, while the play area was still packed with children and families enjoying the cafe and soft play facilities.
The news comes after a cannabis haul worth around £75,000 was found stashed away at an old church in Viewforth last Friday – less than a mile up the road.
More than 100 plants and a variety of drug paraphernalia were seized in the raid on St Kentigern’s Church on St Peter’s Place, and police have refused to rule out the possibility that the two incidents were linked.
This building was regularly occupied by young children and their parents who were completely unaware of the cannabis which was being grown within.”Paul Grainger
Residents and parents in Morningside said they had been left “speechless” by Tuesday’s shock discovery.
One mother, who asked not to be named, said she had been planning to stage her four-year-old daughter’s birthday party at the venue on Saturday.
She said: “I don’t know what I’ll do if it’s not open. There’s probably more to it than meets the eye. It’s a lovely place – it’s really nice inside. It’s always mobbed and really busy. The business changed hands recently – it’s only been Tiki Tots for about six months.”
Bryan Webster, who lives in a top-floor flat on Morningside Road overlooking the play area, insisted the popular venue was always crammed with young families.
The 66-year-old added: “I’ve had my nephew in there a couple of times. I’ve never seen anyone suspicious going in or out of it, or anything like that. It’s only people going in with kids that you see.”
But Natalie Dodson, who runs the Zulu Lounge cafe across the road from Tiki Tots, said the surprise drugs haul came on the back of a rise in crime across the area.
She said: “I’m very shocked. To find that in a play centre – I’m speechless. But the crime here is shocking. We’ve been robbed twice in the last four months, and if you go round any shop here they will tell you they’ve been robbed.”
The owner of the old church hall in which Tiki Tots is based, who declined to give his name, revealed he was meeting with police to discuss the incident.
He said: “It’s nothing to do with the building. We just find it shocking. We don’t want Tiki Tots to be affected by this – it’s got nothing to do with the business.”
The management of Tiki Tots could not be reached for comment.
Police insisted they were “pursuing a positive line of inquiry” to find those
responsible for the cannabis farm. Detective Inspector Paul Grainger said: “This building was regularly occupied by young children and their parents who were completely unaware of the cannabis which was being grown within.”