MANAGERS at a community garden are asking locals to keep an eye out for anyone misusing the space after it was targeted by 'vandals'.

They claim people have been starting fires, breaking into the barn and accessing the composting toilet.

As previously reported, children’s toys and polytunnels were recently damaged at the Peebles Community Action Network (CAN) garden.

“Two separate neighbours of the garden had called me and said there were teenagers who were up to mischief in the garden and it was just a bit despairing,” said co-ordinator Nichole Dow. “It’s not what we want to be seeing at all.

“I just want to put the message out to the community to say thank you for keeping an eye on it for us but more needs to be done.”

Other damage has included the uprooting of plants and the breaking of garden ornaments made by members of the community.

Nichole and her team have been advising volunteers who spot anyone in the garden outside of normal hours to not approach them.

However, despite all the damage, managers of the garden hope there is a way to work with the youngsters to share the good work they do for the community in the garden.

“We work with a lot of young people,” said Nichole. “We’ve got a fantastic partnership with Peebles High School.

“I see how much young people benefit from the garden and we want to keep offering those services but it’s so disheartening when it keeps getting damaged and broken.

“I’m not getting in touch with the Peeblesshire News to marginalise people, or to contribute to this idea that young people are bad, because that’s not the case.

“But it’s just a few people who are spoiling it for the many.”

Nichole also hopes that the Peebles CAN, in partnership with Peebles High School, can identify the teens who have been photographed breaking into the garden.

She then wants to invite the youngsters to the garden to join a session to learn about the work the community garden does.

Nichole added: “I just want to put a plea out to the community, maybe ask your teenagers what they are up to, where are they going?

“Because I’m sure there’s some of them just hanging out in the garden just having a nice time, but there are others who are damaging our compost toilet, they are pulling the bucket of urine out of the back of it and playing with it.

“I’m sure they’re just messing around but it’s causing a lot of damage to our infrastructure and the facilities we’ve got.

“If we don’t have a composting toilet we’re not able to work with people with long-term health conditions and that’s really disappointing because we had to work really hard to get a composting loo.”

In addition to asking locals to keep a close watch over the garden, Peebles CAN is looking into installing CCTV in the garden, but this requires approval from Scottish Borders Council.

Nichole told this newspaper that she is meeting with police representatives today.

She said: “I just feel at this point we need a police presence because we’re not really getting through to them [young people] at this point.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are aware of a number of reports of anti-social behaviour by youths in this area of Peebles since August.

“Officers are continuing to carry out enquiries into these reports to identify who is responsible and additional patrols are being carried out.

“We are also continuing to work with our partners to address these issues.”