VANDALS climbed 40ft to daub graffiti on two chimney stacks above Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in the latest in a series of attacks on the listed building.

The yobs managed to get onto the roof and spray green paint onto the brickwork.

Graffiti was removed from a wall to the side of the museum earlier in the summer and the ground cleared to stop it being a gathering point for groups of youths. A sign at the front of the building has also been defaced with a graffiti tag.

A resident alerted a member of staff at the museum yesterday and it has been reported to the council’s localities team set up to focus on the area.

Coun Nadine Watts (Lab, Old Town ) said: “It’s important for the heritage of the town to preserve the museum and to tackle any vandalism or anti-social behaviour that is taking place. I will report this to the StreetSmart service and follow it up with the police team for the sector.”

The fact intruders were able to scale the roof unnoticed will be a concern for a museum which houses one of the most valuable collections of British 20th century art outside London.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There are groups of youths who hang around at the front of the building late at night.

“At weekends there can be as many as 10 at a time. Some, but not all, flit between the front of the museum and the Foyer hostel for young people opposite.

“I think other kids from around the area turn up to meet their mates and it turns into a hang-out zone.

“There is shouting and screaming well into the early hours of the morning and kids hanging about smoking.

“I haven’t seen anyone spray graffiti onto the building but I did see one youth swinging on the scaffolding over the summer and it has become a focal point for bad behaviour late at night.”

A youth at the Foyer, which provides accommodation for 57 young people, said the vandalism had not been carried out by any of the residents. The management of the hostel did not respond to requests for comment.

A police spokesman said officers had been called on September 21 to reports of a pane of glass smashed at the rear of the museum. The graffiti is being investigated by the Neighbourhood Policing Team.

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The daubing of the chimney stacks at the museum is wanton vandalism and will not be tolerated.

“We have been in touch with our contractor to remove it, but we would urge anyone with any information to contact the police.”