Council Pledges Purge on Graffiti
- Up to 500 additional pieces of graffiti set to be removed under new Council policy
- Local communities to be supported to take action in their neighbourhoods
- £75,000 investment will help make Reading's residential areas more attractive to live in
THE Council intends to embark on a purge of graffiti across Reading by doubling the size of graffiti it will remove for free from private property.
A proposed change in policy would see the Council remove graffiti up to 2m2 from non-Council owned buildings or property for free. The existing policy is to remove graffiti up to 1m2.
The change is expected to allow for the removal of up to 500 additional pieces of graffiti in Reading, on top of 37 sites already proposed to have graffiti removed from them. However, larger areas of graffiti could also be dealt with from this budget, on approval, at a greater cost.
Reading Borough Council also plans to provide up to 20 community removal kits to help empower local community groups to take their own action to rid their neighbourhoods of low-level graffiti.
The clean-up is being funded through £75,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). CIL is a charge applied to developers when they build new housing in Reading, allowing local communities to benefit from the work. It follows an online consultation last year which attracted 171 responses and asked people what they thought CIL money should be spent on locally.
The proposed change in Policy will be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee on Wednesday 10 November, and the enhanced graffiti removal project report can be viewed here:
Residents can report incidences of graffiti by downloading the Love Clean Streets app from their phone's app store. This also allows residents to provide images and location details, which will be sent to Reading Borough Council to take action. It can also be reported by calling the Council’s contact centre on 01189 373787.
Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said:
“Reading’s Banksy became a cultural landmark literally overnight, but most graffiti is not so welcome. This new initiative will allow us to respond to more of residents’ reports of unsightly tags, scribbles and other graffiti that does not enhance our town.
“Our previous policy was effective at removing single tags and cleaning smaller pieces, but did not allow us to offer free removal for private properties that had become graffiti hotspots. By increasing the threshold at which the Council will clean reported graffiti for free from private properties, we plan to remove 500 more pieces of graffiti across the town. We will also be empowering and equipping community groups to tackle graffiti in their area, and will be able to tackle some larger pieces.
“As Reading continues to grow, the Council is committed to ensuring our residential areas are as attractive as they can be to live in. The enhanced graffiti clean-up service will help to achieve that.”
The Council’s current graffiti removal policy includes the removal of up to 1m2 free of charge following reports of graffiti on private property with the owner’s permission. This is either painted over or a chemical removal process is used, depending on the surface requiring attention.
After the appearance of Banksy artwork on the Reading Gaol site in March the Council has noted the strong community desire to retain valued street art, and procedures have been proposed to ensure street art that could be of community or economic value is not removed.
Graffiti can be defined as any drawings, scribbles, messages or ‘tags’ that are painted or written on walls and other surfaces. It is criminal damage and costs the UK over £1 billion per year.