Pink painters come clean

IT caused a colourful stir in Craigmillar and sparked speculation it was a cheeky nod to the gay-friendly credentials of Lothian and Borders Police.

But now the mysterious painters of the pink police box on Newcraighall Road have finally come forward "pink handed".

Last week, the Evening News reported how the disused police box, at the junction of The Wisp, was changed from blue to pink by two men on February 15.

Residents reported seeing the men arrive armed with pink paint and sandpaper, and speculated that they may be making light of the local force's links to the gay community.

Today it can be revealed that the paint job was the work of local artists Gus Meechan and Mark Carr, of Craigmillar Community Arts, and that the gay speculation was little more than a "pink herring".

Gus said: "We painted the box as part of World Community Arts Day, which took place the following Sunday, and it was never our intention for it to be seen as a slight against the police or the gay community.

"We were just looking for something colourful and pink was the only colour we had. People walking by at the time we were painting said it looked very nice."

Last month, Lothian and Borders Police was named Scotland's best employer for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

The rainbow flag of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) community has been flying over the force's Fettes headquarters to mark LBGT History Month, and a senior officer has also been entered into the world's sexiest gay man contest.

However, despite the various connotations of the colour pink, Mark revealed the choice of colour was totally random.

He said: "Most people said they hadn't even noticed the police box before so I think we put it on the map in a way.

"Now they've not only painted out the pink, they've painted it a boring shade of battleship grey and it's faded back into the background again."

The pair have now offered to come back to repaint the box back to its historic police blue, in the interests of "restorative justice".

However, the police may be seeking justice of their own as the paint job was earlier logged as a case of "malicious damage".

Local resident Tam Chapman, who lives in the adjacent Dudingston Park South, complimented the pink paint job last week and yesterday said the pair should not be punished.

He said: "I don't think they should get any more than a slap on the wrist. It brightened up the area for a while and was a real talking point amongst the residents."

Craigmillar Community Arts' next project will also involve a public paint job, but this time the pair insist it will be done with the full co-operation of the authorities.

Gus and Mark will be taking a group of local schoolchildren around the under-construction Parclife Homes development in Edinburgh's "Green Quarter" with a set of bigfoot stencils, with the dual purpose of brightening up the area and highlighting the work that residents and businesses must do to reduce the area's carbon footprint.

Lothian and Borders Police, who have previously said they were investigating the paint job as a case of vandalism, today said they had nothing to add.