Old Town residents plagued by thugs and users

RESIDENTS living in a historic Old Town tenement block have told how they are living in fear after one man was stabbed, another attacked, and drug users invaded the common stairwell of their building.

The flats at 1 Fleshmarket Close are said to have become prey to anti-social behaviour after a magnetic mechanism on the re-enforced gate broke.

Almost all of those who live in the 14 properties – a mixture of privately-owned, council and holiday lets – told the Evening News they had encountered needles and silver foil littering the common stair. And some said they had returned home to find users injecting heroin or smoking crack. The most disturbing incident saw one of the residents, a man in his 30s, reportedly stabbed four times in the stomach just yards from the Royal Mile after returning from dinner with his girlfriend last weekend.

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He told the Evening News: “I was struggling with the two of them and I could feel him punching me in the stomach, about four times.

“When I got up to my flat I looked down and there was all this blood in my kitchen. I realised he must’ve had a knife.”

The city council said it is aware of problems with door security in Old Town and is working to improve it, while police are investigating the stabbing.

The victim of the stab attack said: “I came across this pair in the stairway. It was about 1am or something. I said ‘right, come on, you need to get out’. They went for me and we got into a struggle.”

He was later taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and received eight stitches.

He said: “It’s hard to imagine it happened right next to the High Street with all those people coming and going. But then again I grew up in Muirhouse and it’s not nearly as bad as the Old Town.”

Another resident, a student in his 20s, claimed he had also been assaulted and mugged outside his home, and claimed two thugs had threatened to kill his dog and set the building on fire when he challenged them two weeks ago.

“We are having to live with this constant fear,” he said. A third resident, student Andrew Hunt, 29, who moved into the block from Bathgate in June, said he had also had to ask drunken yobs to leave the stair.

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He said: “I’ve told the council that the door’s faulty. We really need to get cameras to deter them.”

City Centre Councillor Charles Dundas said he would make sure the matter was investigated: “The council and police partnership Operation Armour are looking at common stairs and security issues. I’ll speak to the local community team and ensure this is something that is being looked at.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Officers are investigating a report of a stabbing that is alleged to have taken place in the early hours of August 13 at an address on the High Street. We would appeal for members of the public to come forward with any information.”