Inch residents look to dismiss bad image after shooting

posted 23 Jan 2009, 08:51 by South Edinburgh Net Admin   [ updated 23 Jan 2009, 08:54 ]
The street names reflect the romance and the thrills, the daring exploits and the high drama of Sir Walter Scott's finest fiction.

Roads like Redgauntlet Terrace, Bellenden Gardens, Saddletree Loan and Durward Grove, each named after a place or a familiar swashbuckling character in the writer's literary masterpieces.

And among them is Hazelwood Grove, where yesterday a mound of floral tributes lay on a pavement in loving memory of a young man whose death at the weekend brought real-life drama and tragedy to the otherwise unremarkable streets of The Inch.

Martyn Barclay was found there on Saturday morning with a gunshot wound to his head. By the next day, despite the desperate efforts of staff at the nearby ERI to save his life, the 26-year-old father-of-one was dead.

Speculation of a drugs turf war and bloody revenge over a lover, mixed with claims that he had been warned by police that he could be in danger, have seeped through the shocked community of the south Edinburgh estate.

Amid the rumours was a poignant and emotionally-charged statement from his own grieving parents, reminding the community of their loss of a "loving father, brother and grandson", a son – pictured in a photograph released by police, proud in his Hibs shirt and a little awkward at being captured tucking into an ice cream sundae.

His ghostly image peers out from the A4-size posters which have been distributed around local shops in Walter Scott Avenue – just a few hundred yards from the house in Hazelwood Grove where Martyn is believed to have lived with partner Caroline Igoe – appealing for help and witnesses to come forward.

Yesterday, police teams in bright fluorescent jackets patrolled in pairs, walking slowly along the estate streets, past rows of well kept semi-detached and terraced houses.

Occasionally a police car drifted past before returning to join the command unit van parked opposite the tanning salon, the two Chinese takeaways, the chip shop, Pucci's pet parlour and grocery shops at Walter Scott Avenue.

Inside the Keystone grocers, shopkeeper Mohammed Anwer took delivery of a poster from Pc Adam Blair which he then taped to the window near his door. Unlike others, he wasn't surprised by the events of the weekend.

"Some of the young people around here are shocking," he said. "The way they talk and the abuse is disgusting. They are ignorant. They have everything they could want – homes, food to eat, education – and they abuse it all.

"I am called names and I have to stand and take it. But who is bringing people up to behave like that?"

Yet many insist that despite shocking events of the weekend, The Inch is far from the worst of Edinburgh's estates.

Indeed, there is a noticeable absence of litter and graffiti around the shops, passers-by are mainly elderly folks picking up their shopping, older men visiting Laidlaws bookies and attractive young women dropping into Sun Factor beauty salon.

Among the passers-by is Catherine Paterson, 72, who has lived in the area for 30 years. Today, home is in sheltered housing in Tresillian Gardens on the opposite side of Gilmerton Road from where the shooting took place.

"It's a very nice area," she insisted. "The trouble is people move here from outside, they're not local and they are probably involved in all sorts. The youth have a different head on their shoulders from the older generations, but it's not as if everyone is running about with drugs and guns."

William and Sarah Clements agree. William, 68, helps organise the Neighbourhood Watch in Redgauntlet Gardens, where they have lived for nearly 30 years, and insisted he is rarely troubled.

"It's a shame if people are thinking this is a bad area because of this incident, because it isn't," he said. "We think we're very lucky to stay here, it's a nice area."

That said, there is evidence of a criminal undercurrent. The Evening News revealed in September last year that much of the city's cocaine was controlled by two drugs ringleaders from Gilmerton and The Inch. The area was also identified as harbouring young gang members with access to firearms.

To add to the tension, The Inch and Gilmerton gangs were said to have become locked in a bloody battle with rivals in the north of Edinburgh, leading to a spate of violent incidents.

And, last January, jailed drugs trafficker Mark Richardson, 43, was ordered to hand over £73,000 in crime profits.

Richardson, of The Inch's Cumnor Crescent, was jailed for four-and-a-half years alongside his 20-year-old son, also called Mark, who was described by detectives as the "kingpin" of cocaine dealing in the city.

Former city council leader Donald Anderson was raised in The Inch. "I grew up in Rutherford Drive, the other side from where this incident took place," he recalled. "For me, The Inch was a great place to grow up.

"It had its share of problems but most areas had. I was beaten up in Inch Park and remember coming home covered in blood. These days it would probably be reported to police – quite rightly so – but back then you went home, had a wash and were sent back out to play. But things were never on the scale of a shooting.

"It went on to have a fairly high number of council house sales and there has been a growth in the rental market. So while there was a strong community which had pride in its area, many have moved off or died."

City councillor for the area Ian Murray said it had regrouped. "There were problems four or five years ago – antisocial behaviour that made the residents feel uncomfortable. But that was pretty much stopped after Asbos were handed out and families moved.

"There have been drug busts over the past two years but that shows the police are getting on top of things. There's no more criminality than anywhere else.

"There is a relationship between housing and community safety teams, police, NHS and the local community which is looked at as a blueprint for other areas in the UK and Europe-wide.

"It's got to be remembered that The Inch remains a very safe area in terms of criminal statistics."

His Labour colleague Norma Hart also stressed that the weekend incident was "out of character" for the area.

"The Inch is actually a very clean and tidy area, there has been investment and its been developed. It's a safe and a strong community."


Source: Edinburgh Evening News