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The introduction of a new style of vehicle has been more of a problem than a Scottish taxi company could ever have imagined.

Festival City Cabs has been operating in Edinburgh for more than ten years and now runs over 200 private hire vehicles in and around the city. The business ran relatively smoothly until May of this year but then the problems began in earnest. The introduction of four new people carriers into the fleet has been quickly followed by a spate of attacks on the new vehicles and it is thought the events may be connected. A partner and marketing manager at the firm, David Coutts, confirmed that all the attacks had occurred after it bought the people carriers three months ago. The new vehicles all have a distinctive yellow livery, are designed to look like New York taxicabs and show the firm's name on the side. The owners of Festival City Cabs are unaware of why they are being targeted but believe they may be the victims of a hate campaign. The four vehicles have so far been attacked a total of seven times.

Three of the seven alleged attacks took place near the home of marketing manager David Coutts in East Fettes Avenue. Significantly, they occurred shortly after his address was published on a trade website. Mr Coutts commented: "It's too much of a coincidence that this happened after details of where I live are printed on the internet. The taxi and private hire business in Edinburgh is a very competitive market. Someone is unhappy with a private hire car firm doing something high profile." In the first alleged incident, the rear window and two side windows of a saloon car were smashed while the vehicle was parked outside Broughton High School on East Fettes Avenue.

This was followed by an attack, in early July, on a Mercedes Viano people carrier parked on the same road when all four tyres were slashed. The attack was repeated later in the same month. The next attack, in McLeod Street outside Tynecastle Primary School, resulted in all four tyres on a yellow people carrier being burst. Mr Coutts believes that darts were used to inflict the damage. Some time later, the tyres of a people carrier were slashed outside Somerfield supermarket at Davidson's Mains. Shortly after, on August 25, all four tyres of a car were cut, again in East Fettes Avenue. The most recent attack was in early September when Cameron Calvert, who works in the firm's accounts department, parked a people carrier for half an hour while visiting a client in Rose Street. He returned to the vehicle at about 11.40 a.m. and tried to drive away but soon realised the car was not running properly. He pulled over to investigate the problem and immediately saw what was wrong.

"The back tyre was slashed,” he said. "It was rough to drive so I pulled over and had to leave it in Hanover Street and organise to have it towed. I had heard about the other people carriers being done but I was shocked as I was just going about doing my job." The police are fully aware of the situation and are investigating the attacks. A likely source of evidence may be footage from CCTV cameras in Hanover Street. It is hoped that this may have a record of the most recent attack and may help to identify the culprits. A police spokeswoman said: "We have a number of recorded incidents and we appeal for anyone with information to come forward." The company is also keen to enlist the help of the public, with David Coutts adding: "If anyone comes forward with information leading to a prosecution then we would be willing to offer a substantial reward."

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