Vandals daub graffiti on fire-ravaged factory at Friars Mill site, Bath Lane, Leicester
Vandals have climbed scaffolding supporting the walls of a fire-damaged 18th century factory to daub graffiti across its remains.
The yobs gained access to the Friars Mill site, in Bath Lane, next to the River Soar in Leicester, evading 24-hour security put in place by the city council to protect the building following a devastating blaze in July.
They then defaced the remains of what is one of the city's oldest recorded factories with graffiti tags in large letters.
It is understood the vandalism occurred earlier this week as the city council looks at the long-term future of the building.
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It had been awaiting redevelopment, but its owners have gone bankrupt.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby ordered the site be secured after the fire to prevent further damage, but the measures put in place have been breached.
He said he was considering a compulsory purchase order so the council could potentially preserve an important part of the city's industrial heritage
Wayne Manship, 58, who cycles past the site to get to work, noticed the graffiti.
He said: "I don't understand how they could get in and climb up without being noticed.
"It can't be a case of a kid sneaking in for 30 seconds, splashing on some paint and then legging it. It would have taken some time to do that.
"I thought the point of the security was to prevent just this. It looks like a real mess."
A city council spokesman said: "We have contracted in 24-hour security to help protect the building while work is carried out to make it safe and secure.
"While the security is primarily to prevent any access to the building interior, we do take this act of vandalism seriously.
"The scaffolding – which has clearly allowed access to this part of the wall – is required while contractors carry out work to block up all external openings. This will prevent any access to the building's interior.
"We will also be carrying out work to construct a temporary roof to further protect the building.
"Once this work is complete, the scaffolding will be removed from the site."
Leicester Civic Society chairman Stuart Bailey said: "It's deeply worrying that vandals are still able to get access.
"If they can get in to paint on the walls, they could cause further damage that makes the building beyond saving.
"Vandals are quite resourceful sometimes and get into spaces you would not think is possible. Security needs tightening up."
Mr Bailey said he had heard a property developer had expressed an interest in acquiring the building and restoring it.
He said: "Either the council needs to take the lead on this or a developer does, but the longer it is left unresolved the harder the task will be."