The Head of Environment presented the above report, a copy of which had previously been circulated. He advised that the purpose of the report was to appraise Members of existing arrangements and programmes with regard to instances of graffiti across the Council district following a recent Notice of Motion adopted by Council with regard to this.
Councillor Hunter referred to concerns expressed by Councillor Cusack, the Proposer of the Motion passed by Council, that the view did not reflect the main part of the Motion. She stated that Council was the main body for addressing graffiti, however, it continued to be a major issue. Whilst Councillor Cusack had been given reassurances it did not appear that any action had been taken. She requested greater clarity in regards to Council being the body for addressing graffiti.
The Head of Environment pointed out that additional resources would be required in order for Council to adopt a more robust approach to addressing graffiti which would require to be included in the rates estimates. He stated that whilst Council had responsibility for Victoria Market many of the surrounding. Council had attempted to have the graffiti removed to no avail and it order for Council to undertake this task would require additional resources.
Councillor Duffy praised the Council approach to graffiti in her area and suggested that the key was engagement with local community groups. She stated that identifying external sources of funding was the way forward. She referred to the need for a positive approach and to engage with young people in the community to become involved in the removal of graffiti in their area and therefore promoting a sense of ownership. She did not consider there was currently a need for a dedicated Officer to address the issue of graffiti.
Alderman McCready commended the work carried out to date. However, he expressed concern that whilst graffiti appeared superficial, in terms of a functioning society, it was evidence based that when ignored and left to fester in an urban environment graffiti encouraged crime. He referred to a radical approach adopted in America to address this problem when it was agreed that graffiti be removed after one day. He stated that when considering the financial implications it was simply not a matter of addressing the problem but about the potential consequences if this was not carried out in a timely matter. He stated that if the resources were available to do so this must could not be disregarded and accordingly requested that a review of the current process be carried out.
Alderman Hussey referred to the need to address the issue of graffiti immediately or it will consequentially result in anti-social behaviour. He referred to the fact that Council had the expertise for removing graffiti and enquired if there was a methodology for reporting incidents of graffiti.
The Head of Environment advised that the removal of graffiti was the responsibility of Council’s Property Maintenance Section. However, there was an issue in terms of reporting an incident on an undefined property. He stated that Officers would take direction from Members in regards to how this be addressed in the future. He referred to a number of issues associated with this which required addressing. He stated that graffiti reported on Council property was removed within twenty-four hours, however, he was unable to comment in regards to other agencies. They did, however, have access to the same contractors. He said there were processes and costs were significant.
Councillor McCann acknowledged Council’s approach but referred to the need for consultation with other agencies regarding their duty of care. He referred to a possible scenario when the initial budget would come from Council but could potentially be reimbursed. He suggested that a more holistic approach was key to succeeding.
Councillor Duffy requested that Members were provided with a cost estimate for a dedicated Officer in respect of graffiti removal.
Subsequently the Committee
Recommended (i) that a Working Group be established to discuss Council’s future role in regards to graffiti removal and to provide direction to Officers in this regard; and
(ii) the Working group are provided with a cost estimate in regards to the appointment of a dedicated Officer to deal with graffiti removal.