Schools clean up to deter holiday vandals

Sgt Stuart Aitchison, Lindsey Walker (headteacher  St Lukes PS), Candy Inglis (headteacher Mayfield PS) Cllr Jim Muirhead and pupils from both schools: Lucy Charlottes, Jake McKeen, Riley O'Brien, Olivia Lee, Sophie Hunter, Jurja Allan, Leo Burke , Mason Robertson
Sgt Stuart Aitchison, Lindsey Walker (headteacher St Lukes PS), Candy Inglis (headteacher Mayfield PS) Cllr Jim Muirhead and pupils from both schools: Lucy Charlottes, Jake McKeen, Riley O'Brien, Olivia Lee, Sophie Hunter, Jurja Allan, Leo Burke , Mason Robertson

Midlothian Council has enlisted an army of clean-up kings and queens to help vanquish vandals and round-up rubbish before the end of term.

Working in conjunction with Police Scotland, the council organised playground tidy-ups from Monday before pupils finish tomorrow (Friday).

Vandals caused £18,000 of damage to Hawthornden and St Mary’s during the Easter break, with other schools also targeted in the past year.

Speaking at the launch at the Mayfield and St Luke’s school campus on Monday, the cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “With the support of our pupils, staff and potentially parents, we want to make sure our playgrounds are, as much as possible, devoid of stones, sticks or any other items an opportunistic vandal could use to damage our school estate during the holidays.

“It’s both infuriating and depressing to have to come back to school after a break or a weekend to find that once again, vandals have smashed windows or damaged roofs.”

As well as the general tidy-ups, the council’s property and facilities teams will be checking building security.

Police Scotland has also offered to check CCTV on the schools’ estate are all in working order.

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson said: “We’re delighted Midlothian Council has agreed to work with us on this initiative. Many of these vandalism crimes are opportunistic, so having playground tidy ups to clear away anything that could potentially be used to break windows or damage property is a fantastic, back-to-basics approach.

“We want to send out a clear message to vandals that playgrounds and schools are for young people to enjoy, not destroy. It must be soul destroying for the teachers, pupils, parents and council staff knowing their school estate, a building at the heart of their community, is being targeted and money spent fixing the damage could be much better spent invested in our children’s education.”

Among the list of repairs on council buildings in 2016/17, one repair alone to a vandalised door at Lasswade High School cost £980 to repair while replacing a fence panel at Newbattle High School was £168.