It is the one place in Scotland where green would appear not to mean go.

Following a spate of attacks over the past three-and-a-half years, protective wire grilles have been placed over every green traffic light in the Lanarkshire town of Larkhall.

Since January 2004, 205 traffic lights, the vast majority of them green, have been damaged or stolen - at a cost of nearly £17,000 to the public purse.

Those believed to have such an aversion to green are thought to be some teenage Larkhall residents with a preference for blue, white and red.

A section of the population of the town, some 15 miles south-east of Glasgow, is known throughout Scotland for their enthusiasm for the colour scheme of the flag of the United Kingdom.

As recently as the 1990s, some lamp-posts and kerbstones in the town resembled a homage to French or Dutch tricolour. The traffic light attacks are not the first example of an aversion to the colour green by some sections of the local community.

One Larkhall pharmacy is understood to have changed the green-and-white livery of both its shops to red, white and blue after customers allegedly stayed away. In addition, when cable TV boxes were painted green in the town, the reaction of some residents was such that the company changed the colour to grey. The vandals behind the anti-green wave of destruction are believed to be climbing on railings next to the lights and prising off or breaking the green lenses.

The first wire grilles were fitted on replacement traffic lights in Raploch Street last month, while new traffic lights are being installed in the town centre as part of the £2m regeneration of Larkhall.

All green lenses on new traffic lights in the town centre will be covered with wire grilles as part of a trial project, which is also taking place in Hamilton and Lanark.

If successful, the scheme could be rolled out across South Lanarkshire.

However, some within the community believe it draws unwanted attention to Larkhall and have argued that the better solution would have been to install CCTV in the town centre.

Peter Craig, Larkhall SNP councillor, said: "I do regret that this action has been taken. But it was costing too much money to replace broken or stolen green lights.

"The wire grilles are more discreet than metal cages, which I feared were going to be used. I would like the vandals to be caught, and CCTV in the town centre could capture them doing it."

Jackie Burns, a Labour councillor in the town, said: "I welcome the approach taken by the council's roads department and the Streetscape contractor to try to eradicate vandalism to traffic lights.

"The vandalism to the green traffic lights was putting pressure on the public purse. Some green lights had to be replaced up to 15 times a year."

Last night, a South Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: "The council's traffic signal contractor has experienced problems with vandalism throughout the county and, as the green light is the lowest, this tends to be targeted the most.

"In an attempt to counter this problem, the contractor offered to carry out a trial in South Lanarkshire of a new product that protects the lights with a wire grille.

"At all junctions, which form part of the Larkhall Streetscape works, the new traffic signals will have the wire grille put in place."