TOWNSFOLK have been left disgusted after vandals attacked the 1514 Monument.
A one-metre section off the bottom of the flag pole on the bronze statue has been broken off.
Attempts to catch the culprit through CCTV have so far proved fruitless and the Hawick News can reveal that two of the cameras in the town aren’t working and, despite a camera pointing at the memorial 24 hours a day, the quality of picture is poor due to the lighting.
Police say the incident took place between Friday night and Monday morning and enquiries have established that a group of four males and one female have been seen in suspicious circumstances in the vicinity of the monument between 2am and 3am on Saturday morning.
A spokesperson said: “This monument plays a significant and pivotal part in a number of the town’s customs and traditions and to have it vandalised by mindless people will be difficult to comprehend for many local people.”
The attack comes just weeks after, what is believed to have been a drunken teenager, placed the head of a fancy dress costume over the top of the statue.
Councillor Stuart Marshall (pictured), who is chairman of the Common-Riding committee, said: “This latest attack is deeply upsetting. Once more the pranksters have struck and just like the last time the public purse will be opened to pay for their actions.
“What infuriates me is, here we have a major asset that all of us are rightfully proud of and sadly we have within our community someone who has no respect whatsoever for it being there.”
A restoration project at The Horse is being conducted by the Mosstroopers Club as part of the 2014 quincentenary celebrations of the Battle of Hornshole. But club president Alan Brydon said he was “disgusted” by the latest damage.
He said: “Not only have they vandalised a magnificent statue, the most iconic symbol of our town, but they have desecrated a memorial. I can hardly believe anyone in their right mind would do that.”
It is understood, if the broken piece is found, then it would cost in the region of £100 to repair, although without it, the bill could rise to in excess of £500.
Scottish Borders Council’s property officer Frank Scott said: “I would appeal to those responsible to get that piece to me.
“If they can then the repair would be quite simple, but if not we’ll have to get a new piece made.”
And Provost Ron Smith added: “It’s hard to believe that anyone with the interests of Hawick at heart would damage a revered symbol of the town.
“As provost I hope that the cold light of day would prompt those who took part in this disgrace to identify where the missing piece is so that repairs can be carried out quickly.
“This act of vandalism will cost a lot of money to repair if the piece isn’t returned. In the meantime the community can only shake its head in disbelief that this ever happened.”
Police, who have been carrying out extensive enquiries, have been appealing all week for anyone with information to come forward.
A spokesperson said: “We would particularly like to hear from anyone who was in the area over this time period and witnessed the incident taking place, or anyone who has information which could lead to the identification of those responsible.”
Meanwhile, a site visit is being carried out today with Councillor Marshall, inspector Paula Clark and officials from the local authority to discuss surveillance issues in the area.