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Headteacher defends youths against vandalism allegations

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By Donald Turvill
Moffat
Headteacher defends youths against vandalism allegations

THERE IS “no evidence” that young people were responsible for a shocking act of vandalism at Moffat Community Nature Reserve last month, Moffat Academy’s head teacher has said.

The Snipe Hide — a popular birdwatching spot, and one of the reserve’s only wheelchair accessible hides —– suffered hundreds of pounds worth of damage following the incident which occurred between the evening of Thursday, April 1 and the following morning.

It was discovered with planks having been forcefully ripped off all sides of the structure – sparking outrage locally.

And although the hide was swiftly restored thanks to a flood of donations and the help of local tradesmen, those responsible for the mindless act are yet to be identified.

At Moffat and District Community Council’s monthly meeting last week the group’s vice chair Fiona Murray echoed previous reports that “youths were in the area” and added: “It would be good to know if that led to anything.”

However, Moffat Academy’s head teacher Tara Woods, pictured above, present at the meeting last Tuesday, commented: “I’m led to believe from what I’m hearing is that there’s apparently no evidence that the vandalism at the nature reserve was in fact young people.”

And she suggested that, to the contrary, the vandal in question was a disgruntled adult.

Mrs Woods said: “What I’m hearing is that it was the actions of an adult in relation to ongoing disputes between forest organisations. So whilst acknowledging that our young people may at times be responsible for poor choices, and we at the school are doing what we can to instil responsible behaviours and also consult with finding ways to engage with them in the community, it would be remiss of me to not stick up for them when we’re hearing that they haven’t been responsible for a particular incident.”

Ashleigh Douglas, a local resident also sitting in on the community council’s meeting, added it was “disappointing” that officers hadn’t investigated the incident with more rigour.

She said: “I think on social media it was very much assumed that it was the youth of the town that had done the damage and certainly from what we’ve heard from the police report and from what Tara said, it would appear that Tara certainly has an update to that as opposed to what the police have fed back.”

In a statement, Police Scotland said its enquiries are still ongoing.

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