A CHARITY which supports elderly and vulnerable people is facing a hefty repair bill after its buses were hit by vandals.
Drivers for the Pilton Equalities Project (PEP), which provides vital services to dozens of groups across north Edinburgh, arrived at the depot on Friday morning to find three minibuses had been vandalised.
The back windows were completely smashed in what is suspected to be an overnight attack by young yobs.
Helen Tait, manager at PEP, estimated that the damage would cost up to £3000 to repair.
Volunteers worked quickly to put running repairs in place to make sure vital pick-ups could go ahead on Friday.
The three buses – part of a ten-strong fleet of minibuses at the Crewe Road North depot – have been sent to Dalkeith for repairs to ensure this week’s bookings can be honoured.
Ms Tait said: “We are all so angry and upset. We lease the yard from the council and there are CCTV cameras, but they are not connected.
“We will be trying to raise money to set them up. We had a lot of vandalism a few years ago, but I don’t even know how they got in this time. There’s barbed wire all around.”
Ms Tait said the incident was a blow to PEP’s busy fleet, which provides transport to local youth groups, churches, older people’s groups and schools from Cramond to Leith.
She added: “We have lots of volunteers supporting the project. We have five day-care clubs and 90-odd organisations.
“To have three buses off the road is an absolute nightmare. It’s just so deflating. We have to raise funds just for maintenance and new tyres, so this is the last thing we need.”
The gang also stole diesel cards from the buses, which will be completely useless as filling stations only accept them for fuel payment if the vehicle registration number corresponds with the one on the card.
Willie Black, secretary of West Pilton and West Granton community council, condemned the incident, which comes amid long-running concerns about youth disorder in the area.
He said: “These youths, if it is young people, don’t have any attachment to the area. There’s no idea of solidarity, no empathy with the people around them. We need to get into the schools and explain how our community works and the benefits that are there. Whether that will stop it is debatable.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Police in Edinburgh are appealing for information after a number of vans belonging to a charity in Pilton were found to be vandalised at the depot on Crewe Road North. Anyone with information or who witnessed any suspicious behaviour is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101.”