SICKENING homophobic graffiti daubed across a Sutton Coldfield flat is now being investigated by police as a suspected hate crime.
Messages spray-painted by vandals including "No queers", "batty boy" and "No paedos" on the walls and windows of the Badgers Bank Road property, have left nearby residents outraged.
Paul Burke, who lives about 100 metres from the Optima Community Housing-owned flat in Four Oaks, told the Observer of his "genuine shock" at seeing the "horrendous" sight.
He said: "We have been here for two and a half years and I'm personally offended, it's not what I would expect from the community around here, not to say that someone on the estate has done it.
"I'm not aware of any untoward behaviour or bad feelings here; it's so shocking to see.
"The nature of this graffiti is in bad and poor taste and not in-keeping with the small community within Badgers Bank, who warmly welcome people of all ages from the young to the elderly, and multiple generations of families irrespective of race, religion, sexuality or gender."
Mr Burke, who said he reported the incident to Optima on Monday, added: "Another concern among residents is the slow speed at which Optima have reacted to this. In the glossy magazine and leaflets they send out, antisocial behaviour is a concern that they emphasise is not tolerated.
"However, there is a feeling that because Badgers Bank is within Sutton Coldfield there is no value in prioritising this issue as it would be in Shard End or Ladywood."
John Lellow, managing director of Optima Community Housing, said: "We understand that people have been upset by the criminal damage to one of our properties.
"We reported it to the police as soon as we were alerted and cooperated with their request to leave the graffiti in place until we had their permission to remove it late on Wednesday.
"Our contractors were on site on Thursday morning and the graffiti has now been removed. We will continue to support the police in their investigation and if any resident has information about this incident, we would urge them to contact the police."
The writing, which has been sprayed across the brick exterior in blue paint, has been described by Mr Burke as "very large and very clear".
The director of Birmingham LGBT, Steph Keeble has slammed the appalling markings as "totally inappropriate".
She said: "This graffiti is totally unacceptable in modern society and reinforces attitudes based on hate and intolerance.
"Birmingham LGBT would urge everyone to take a zero tolerance position on any incident of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime.
"If you have been a victim of a hate incident or hate crime please report this to the police."
Four Oaks councillor, Ann Underwood, has also condemned the vandals as "cowardly fools".
"It's disgusting that this sort of behaviour is still happening in the 21st Century but who can make account for fools?
"That is what they are, cowardly fools," said Cllr Underwood.
"It's bad that acts of this nature are still carried out and I think there's more of it goes on than we actually believe.
"If anybody sees anything on council-owned property please let one of us know and we will immediately have it removed."
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The targeted flat is situated at the base of one of four blocks of flats, which Paul claims are constantly busy with new families moving in and out.
The former school governor at Hill West Primary School said the graffiti is out of character with the area which has not encountered similar problems in the past.
"This needs to be dealt with so that people don't turn up and see this horrendous looking writing because they are beautiful flats and it's a beautiful community to live in. But if you turn up to look at this it doesn't give a great impression," he added.
Anyone with information which may help the police inquiry should call 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.