CALLS are being made for better protection of an iconic Galashiels statue.

In September a bronze was installed in the Market Square dedicated to the weaver-turned-sweetmaker Robert Coltart.

But in recent months the surrounding marble plinths have been damaged and the paving stones are showing signs of deterioration, due to bikers and skateboarders.

And community leaders say when they confront the youths involved, they are met with a barrage of abuse.

Eileen Frame told Wednesday's meeting of the town's community council: "I saw three people yesterday and one today jumping around on BMX bikes.

"The stones are being damaged and the young people can be quite intimidating.

"On December 21 I was with councillor [Andy] Anderson there and he went over and confronted them.

"But when you try to speak to them, they just go on as if it is not a problem."

Community activist Johnny Gray said he had also tried to intervene.

He added: "I confronted them but I would not be doing it again.

"The language from the kids was atrocious. There were small children and families in the area too."

Hundreds turned out for the unveiling of the statue, which was designed by Angela Hunter, last year.

Thirty relatives of Coltart's family were in the crowd when it was revealed by folk singer Jimmie Macgregor.

And PC James Harrison says officers are doing all they can to preserve the bronze, but admitted it was a "difficult task".

He added: "We need to catch these people in the act.

"If I am told of any incidents when they happen, I can easily walk round or jump in a car.

"It is one of my high priorities.

"We have been working with the council to see if there is anything that can be done.

"I am also asking whether the CCTV camera in Overhaugh Street can be pointed in the other direction, to try and identify those involved.

"I will chase that up, but as the camera is used primarily for the nightclub, there is no guarantee it will stay in that position.

"Even if we turn it around, on the weekend it might have to be switched back."