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Graffiti tags removed from Canterbury streets in big clean up

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Hundreds of ugly tags have been removed from the district's streets and buildings as part of a blitz on graffiti.

Around 400 have been cleaned since October by a council officer dedicated to tackling the unsightly vandalism, and 234 removed from Toddlers Cove and Castle Street multi-storey car-park - costing £5,600 for the two sites.

Council chiefs have also set up a group to share intelligence with police and BID, and in the coming weeks cameras will be installed in hotspots to help catch vandals in the act.

Cllr Nick Eden-Green at the rundown Wincheap underpass, which is covered in graffiti
Cllr Nick Eden-Green at the rundown Wincheap underpass, which is covered in graffiti

The action forms part of a raft of measures aimed at cracking down on the ongoing issue.

Douglas Rattray, head of safer neighbourhoods, says graffiti vandals are committing crime.

"What might be considered by some to be low-level anti-social behaviour is having a real and tangible impact on our community," he said.

"Graffiti adds to the fear of crime for people living, working and studying here and spoils an area that attracts thousands of visitors from home and abroad which contribute to the vibrancy of the local economy.

"It is also costing the residents affected, businesses, the utilities, public transport providers such as Network Rail and council taxpayers thousands and thousands of pounds to clean. This is not a victimless crime.

People who shop graffiti taggers were offered a cash reward earlier this year

"We have been working on this issue for some time and this money would be much better spent on other frontline services.

"It is especially galling when we clean an area or remove a tag and the vandals take it as an opportunity to offend all over again. The public thinks we just haven’t bothered."

After the expensive clean-up at Toddlers Cove, the wall was tagged again soon after.

As part of the scheme, the council is offering owners of private properties free cleans up to four times a year and twice for businesses.

Owners of substantial holdings or high profile buildings will also be penalised if they continuously fail to tackle graffiti on their premises.

Graffiti campaigner Cllr Nick Eden-Green says he welcomes the new initiative, but questions why action is only being taken now.

"We are closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"Why was action not taken months ago to stamp out graffiti before it became rife?

"Why has it taken months of complaining at endless council meetings - and with the enormous help of the Gazette in highlighting it - to get any action?"

Graffiti in Wincheap subway
Graffiti in Wincheap subway

Canterbury City Council is set to offer a £500 reward for information about graffiti taggers if it leads to a conviction.

This is part of a range of measures to tackle a spate of vandalism across the district, which includes installing CCTV cameras, discouraging shops from selling spray cans to minors and offer to clean private property that has been hit.

The council's contractor Serco will clean graffiti off homes up to four times and businesses twice.

The council has already appointed a dedicated officer who monitors online reports and carries out spot checks.

There are now plans in place to hire a second officer focused on sharing intelligence with the police and supporting businesses that are often targeted.

This officer would also be able to issue community protection warnings or notices to properties who do not tackle this spate of vandalism, starting with very high-profile buildings.

Councillors have condemned the actions of these vandals, which cost council taxpayers thousands of pounds to clean up.

At the full council meeting last Thursday, April 25, Cllr Jean Butcher (Lab) said: "Graffiti is a blight on our city and our coastal towns.

"It is a shame that it's just a few people who are taggers that carry on doing it.

"We can see it time and time again what this is doing to our city."

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the new policy which could see fewer tags scrawled on walls across the district.

Graffiti can be reported online on the council website.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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