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Graffiti damage scars A34 underpass mural
Alan Stone, left, and Andrew Pritchard, the clerk and the chairman of North Hinksey Parish Council, inspect the graffiti-damaged mural on the A34 underpass
MINDLESS vandals have been blamed for ruining a mural in Botley after it was attacked for the second time in two years.
The hand-painted mural, in a subway under the A34 at Montagu Road, was created in 1989 by Didcot artist Michael Iddon.
It depicts scenes from Botley and North Hinksey, including 12th century St Lawrence Church, as well as Oxford landmarks including St Giles and Christ Church Meadow.
The graffiti stretches along the length of the underpass.
North Hinksey Parish Council estimates the damage could cost tens of thousands of pounds to repair.
Among the graffiti are a number of “tags”, or signatures. One says “MAS class of 2012”, leading to concerns from the parish council that pupils from nearby Matthew Arnold School may have been involved.
Headteacher Katherine Ryan said the school was working with the parish council and police but would not comment further. The graffiti is believed to have appeared a week ago.
Parish council chairman Andrew Pritchard said: “This is completely unacceptable and it is, quite frankly, mindless vandalism.
“An awful lot of effort went into doing the painting in the first place and the sheer mindlessness of the things painted over it is disgusting.
“The pictures have been comprehensively trashed.”
The mural was also damaged in 2010, when it was targeted by the prolific Oxford tagger ‘Soak’.
The mural was commissioned by the parish council to brighten up the £400,000 underpass, which was completed by Oxfordshire County Council in 1987.
The subway is now the responsibility of the Highways Agency, which is responsible for maintaining trunk roads, including the A34.
An agency spokesman said the graffiti would be removed as part of a “rolling cleaning programme”, but no date for the work had been set.
PCSO Andy McCormack said: “Thames Valley Police have been made aware of graffiti on the underpass under the A34 near Montagu Road.
“Neighbourhood officers will be liaising further with the parish council in due course and carrying out further inquiries.”
Earlier this year, Charlie Silver, then 21 and of no fixed address, had to pay £200 after admitting spraying ‘Soak’ tags on shop shutters in East Oxford.
But the majority of charges against him were dropped.
No-one else has been charged over the ‘Soak’ graffiti, which caused more than £20,000 of damage around the city.