Seven-figure vandalism bill for cash-strapped councils

​Tess White says the priority for spending should be on public services.​Tess White says the priority for spending should be on public services.
​Tess White says the priority for spending should be on public services.
Cash-strapped councils bore a seven-figure bill to repair vandalism at schools and other public buildings over the last five years, it has emerged.

Data obtained by Freedom of Information requests found Dundee City Council claimed £870,062.45 against insurance since 2017.

Bus stops and schools were among serial targets for vandalism, alongside a logbook full of damage at the city’s parks including a break-in to Camperdown Wildlife Park in August 2021.

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There is a long list of graffiti clear-ups and a £240 bill to rinse soap from the City Square fountain on June 15 2021.

Almost £10,000 was spent replacing a vandalised stairwell in Harris Academy in August the same year.

Angus Council totalled £55,843 in 259 incidents over five years.

Another £53,000 was sustained at new-build schools with which the council has a repairs deal with contractors.

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Incidents included replacing part of Arbroath Signal Tower Museum’s roof at a cost of more than £5,000, and repairs to Newbigging Nursery following a break-in in March last year.

Securing parts of the Webster Theatre following an attempted break-in and “constant vandalism” cost around £730 in May.

“Kids” climbing on the roof of Brechin Library in November 2022 spurred one of a number of call-outs over the period.

Dundee and Angus provided detailed descriptions of damage to property in their area, while Perth & Kinross and Fife local authorities were less verbose.

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Commenting on the figures, North East Scottish Conservative MSP Tess White said: “Vandalism at parks and cemeteries is always appalling, and schools face enough challenges without constant repair jobs.

“But these sums are particularly significant when councils across Scotland are facing unpalatable choices in their budgets.

Council Tax is going to go up for most if not all local authorities as they scramble to make up for reduced revenue funding from the SNP government in Edinburgh.

“For what money there is, the priority should be on public services, making people’s lives better, and educating our young people.

"Not attending after break-ins or replacing defibrillators.”