A PEEBLESSHIRE family have been dealt another cruel blow – just months after their cat was killed in a suspected air weapon attack, their garage has been destroyed by a “deliberate” fire.

Walkerburn resident Mags Henderson, who lost her cat Buster in November, has spoken of her shock at last week’s blaze on Caberston Road.

Mrs Henderson said: “First our cat then our garage. What’s happened to Walkerburn? It used to be such a lovely place to live. There seems to be a very bad element in the village.”

Police are still appealing for information about the fire, which they suspect was a “deliberate act” based on initial enquiries.

Mrs Henderson, a mother of two adult children, said: “These garages were built to hold cars, and it was very fortunate there was none inside or it could have caused a lot more damage.”

She told the Peeblesshire News that she is troubled by her recent experiences.

She said: “It’s not a nice feeling knowing that people are going out late at night and doing these things.

“There’s quite a few people up in arms about the whole thing, and the other vandalism that’s going on as well.

“Gates getting taken off and burnt, people having fires under the bridge and cars getting scratched.”

Mrs Henderson and her fellow Walkerburn residents are trying to find ways of tackling the criminal behaviour in the village. They hope to identify anyone responsible for the issues.

“It’s so difficult to pinpoint,” said Mrs Henderson. 

“Is it kids? If so, why are they out at that time of night? 

“Is it adults? Is it someone just passing Walkerburn?”

A spokesperson for Walkerburn and District Community Council said: “We can confirm that recently there has been a spate of anti-social and criminal incidents in the village.

“We have already contacted our [Scottish Borders Council] councillor, Robin Tatler, requesting the Community Action Team becomes more active in our village, especially during evenings and the early hours.

“We are very willing to liaise with Innerleithen Community Council in trying to stem this outbreak of criminality.

“We have decided to investigate local support for setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.”

Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, of the SNP, said: “I am sure that the recent arson event at the Caberston Road garages must have been very alarming – not just for those whose garages and their contents were destroyed; but also for the adjacent residents. At least we can be thankful that there were no vehicles in either of the garages which would have caused an even greater fire."

He added: “Councillors recognise there are concerns in the village about anti-social behaviour and I think it is a pity that the Walkerburn Community Council have not felt able to meet since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

“Tweeddale police reports show an increase in the last year in anti-social behaviour in communities all over the area. The Peeblesshire News last week gave extensive coverage to the very constructive conversation at Peebles CC between that community council and representatives of Tweeddale Youth Action where they were, together, exploring solutions to anti-social behaviour in parts of that town.

“I recognise that there are calls for an increase in the visible police presence in Walkerburn. It is also incumbent on community groups to explore what actions they can take together.”

Shona Haslam, a Conservative councillor for Tweeddale East, said: “Obviously the instances of anti-social behaviour are very concerning, and I know the police are investigating all the cases that have happened over the last few weeks. It’s vitally important that the community pulls together at a time like this. To make sure that parents know where their children are and our young people are being responsible for the actions they are taking.

“The police are investigating and [encouraging] people to keep reporting these things either to 999 or 101.

“We are talking to local youth associations and asking if there is anything they need in order to work with young people more constructively. And we are also discussing with the police and the community action team about whether additional resources can be deployed to our towns.”