Edinburgh Tram route already hit by graffiti

The vandalism at Bankhead tramstop. Picture: Lesley Martin

The vandalism at Bankhead tramstop. Picture: Lesley Martin

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THE trams have yet to make their maiden voyage – but already the route has been targeted by vandals.

In what is believed to be the first major vandalism attack on the track, 5ft letters have been daubed on a wall by a stop at Bankhead.

Frank Boyle Cartoon: High Speed trams not so fast

Work is under way to clean off two brightly coloured “tags” – the name given to stylised signatures used by vandals – and another design which makes an obscene reference.

Construction workers putting finishing touches to the eight-mile corridor are incensed.

One – who pointed out the damage to the News – said the scrawl is hardly a good advert for a “fine city”, especially after the protracted and expensive battle to see the system so close to going live.

He said: “The lads were just gutted when they turned up for work in the morning and saw it. We’ve worked on it so long, it’s like someone has taken something pristine and just destroyed it. It’s very upsetting.”

Grant McKeeman of West Maitland Street printers Copymade, a long-time critic of the project, said it wouldn’t be the last such act.

He said: “It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the tram line has been vandalised. It was only a matter of time and it will happen again. I’m not advocating graffiti – it’s good that people have a voice but that’s not the way to go about it.

“What annoys me is that genuine protests about the trams haven’t been listened to.”

In August, a report revealed the council had drawn up a zero tolerance policy towards graffiti and had set aside an allowance of £1000 a week to pay for cleaning vandalism along the line.

But Keith Bell, secretary of Sighthill, Broomhouse and Parkhead Community Council, said graffiti was a problem in the area.

He said: “Until we get to the root of the problem, it’s inevitable that outdoor areas such as this tram stop will be targeted.

“It’s a social statement among the culprits – they try and get their work in as many prominent places as they can and use tags so people can see who has done it.

“I know some people say that graffiti is an art form, but when it’s done in the wrong places it is quite simply vandalism.”

In January, dozens of areas were cleaned up in a joint police and city council blitz on graffiti.

More than 40 parts of Lochend and Restalrig underwent clean-up operations, while police officers and council workers identified hot spots for graffiti, which then saw extra patrols on the streets.

Several workshops were held at youth clubs in a bid to promote respect for the community.

Conservative councillor Cameron Rose said: “Graffiti is vandalism and it saps the morale out of the community. Unless you catch the culprits it will take off in a big way.”

The stop at Bankhead Drive is still undergoing construction.

A council spokeswoman said: “Where possible graffiti will be removed and any information about those responsible passed to the police.”

NOTORIETY BORN FROM SCRAWLS ON TRAINS

THE modern form of graffiti is believed to have originated on the streets of New York in the late 1960s and was born on the subway train.

A courier going by the name of Taki 183 wrote his name and the date on public property at every stop he made and became a mysterious figure in the city.

When an article was written about Taki appeared in the New York Times, kids all over the city realised the fame and notoriety that could be gained from “tagging” their names on subway cars.

Graffiti exploded in the early 1980s.

Today, graffiti writers from all over the world enter competitions and display photographs of graffiti on the internet.