STAFF and patrons of a Glasgow community centre have called for a stop to the escalating youth vandalism which has left residents feeling “unsafe.”

Bridgeton Community Learning Campus, described by locals as “a lifesaver”, has been victim of an ongoing wave of anti-social behaviour since last November.

Centre manager, Lesley Ward, who last Friday was physically threatened by a youth being chased by police, said the campus is “caught in the crossfire.”

Gangs of youths up to 60 in number have been reported to police roaming around the centre. In an adjacent woodland empty alcohol bottles and used condoms are being discovered on a weekly basis.

Lesley explained: “The first bit of vandalism was the back garden fence being ripped off and thrown in a bonfire. The following week the garden was destroyed. In the months since, youths have turned gas canisters into flame throwers and thrown them at the building.”

The most recent incident saw the destruction of the campus’ patio and flower garden. Among the debris was a flower bed designed in memory of local community champion, Betty Redmond.

Betty’s son, former Glasgow City councillor, George Redmond, spoke of the families’ anguish following the discovery. He said: “Our mother was involved in providing services and support to young people all her life.”

“To see the vandalism done to the garden makes our family feel both sad and angry that some young people would be so destructive to a memorial in our mother’s name. The wider community will also be appalled as they had so much respect for what she achieved for Bridgeton for over 50 years."

One fear hanging over the centre’s financial security is the rising cost of repairs caused by the vandalism. £1200 alone has been spent on replacing the door entry system that was caught on CCTV being attacked by youths with large sticks.

Dalmarnock resident Annemarie Airens has attended the centre for five years. Like many locals she fears what might happen should the persisting vandalism create a risk to its future.

She said: “If the centre wasn’t here there wouldn’t be anywhere else for people to go. You don’t feel isolated knowing it is here. All the young kids come in and they love it. No matter who comes to the door, they are welcomed.”

Lesley has been working with community police in identifying the youths responsible, with some described as young as 12-years-old.

She adds: It’s like Miami Vice round here at the weekend now. You’ve got police officers coming down on motorcycles zooming about the streets like cat and mouse with the youths. They know they’re up against it.

In a call out, locals are asked to call 101 should they witness anti-social behaviour at the centre or nearby areas.