ANTI-council graffiti has been scrawled on to a boarded-up building in Botley as protest at delays to revamp a shopping centre continue.

The stark message, which accuses Vale of White Horse District Council of ‘killing Botley’, has appeared on wooden hoardings set up to protect the windows of an empty shop next to Chancellors Estate Agents.

It’s the second time in a year that the area around the West Way shopping centre has been defaced, after slogans ‘Mace hands off Botley’ and ‘Barbrer [sic] screwed Botley’ were sprayed on to Elms Parade shops in May.

The vandalism comes after 20 months of delays to begin a long-awaited £100m redevelopment of the West Way, which will eventually feature shops, a hotel and student accommodation.

Fed-up residents have long raised concerns that a failure to begin work has led to existing shops closing and the area becoming increasingly run-down.

Police have also recently reported a rise in shoplifting in the shops that remain open.

Mary Gill, of West Way Community Concern, said: “I don’t know who did it and it certainly wasn’t me but I can understand the sentiment.

“It’s not appropriate to be scrawling your thoughts on other people’s property but somebody clearly felt it was a way to express themselves.

“The centre has fallen in to rack and ruin and is near enough empty.

“This is not the future we looked for - we wanted a vibrant, safe and pleasant shopping centre that meets local people’s needs.”

The council first granted planning permission for the scheme in June 2016.

Issues over access and disagreements about how work would take place led to a new plan developed last year.

An application for the revised scheme will be decided by the end of February.

Chris Church, of the Association for Botley Communities, did not condone the graffiti but said it showed the frustration felt by residents.

He added: “People walk around the area and see all these empty shops and think ‘why?’ There is no sign of them even starting the work, it is delay after delay.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Botley is dead, it could become a great place to shop but the council and Mace need to get their act together and get this moving.”

Spokeswoman for the council Sam Marlow said: “Graffiti is a criminal act and cannot be condoned.”

She added it was the responsibility of the landowner to remove the graffiti.

Mace did not respond to requests for comment.