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Writing's still on wall for graffiti mess

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A string of complaints about graffiti on a Staffordshire canal bridge led to all the offensive words being removed – but the remaining scrawl was left behind due to "budget constraints", a move which has left the community enraged.

wd2902292graffiti-email-p.jpgA string of complaints about graffiti on a Staffordshire canal bridge led to all the offensive words being removed – but the remaining scrawl was left behind due to "budget constraints", a move which has left the community enraged.

Staffordshire County Councillor Matthew Ellis has branded the move "jobsworth bureaucracy gone mad". He said the Government-funded agency British Waterways had wasted taxpayers' money by only removing selected parts of the graffiti from the bridge in Bonehill, Lichfield.

Councillor Ellis, who represents Lichfield Rural East, said: "Most of the cost of removing graffiti is getting a team on site to do it.

"To get there and spend time selecting which bits are offensive and then removing only those, leaving everything else, is jobsworth bureaucracy gone mad. It's completely bonkers."

The defaced bridge is part of a well-used route used by dozens of walkers every day.

But Councillor Ellis said there is concern in the area that as the site falls further into disrepair it will attract anti-social behaviour and more vandalism.

He said that by scrubbing off only parts of the graffiti British Waterways was sending out the wrong message.

"At what point did vandalism of this sort become acceptable as long as it's not too offensive?" Councillor Ellis asked.

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"Whether it be vandalism, antisocial behaviour or loutish drunkenness, as a society we need to send a clear signal that this sort of thing will not be tolerated or condoned.

"In this case a publicly funded organisation has failed to do that."

British Waterways West Midlands said it aimed to remove any racially or sexually offensive graffiti within 24 hours.

It sent out workers employed on the canal banks armed with special graffiti wipes.

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The remaining markings get added to a list of work to be carried out by the agency. Annabel Smith, communications executive for British Waterways West Midlands, said calling someone out to remove all graffiti on a 24-hour basis would require funds the organisation does not have.

"We're not saying we are not going to clear the rest, it gets put into a planned maintenance programme."

"In the West Midlands alone we spent £200,000 on graffiti removal last year. It's a never-ending battle, as soon as we remove graffiti from somewhere it's like a blank canvas and it gets covered again.

"We do get out there as soon as we can," she added.

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