Muir gets tough on graffiti

I have secured a tougher approach to the issue of graffiti from Ards and North Down Borough Council after successfully amending proposed new policy on how to handle the matter.

Councillors were presented with a proposed policy at the recent Environment Committee on Wednesday 6 January 2016 but following a proposal from myself the document has been amended and strengthened to deal with all types of graffiti which can blight local areas across the Borough.

Whilst I was glad that the original policy contained actions to deal with graffiti which is considered to be offensive or sectarian, or in some other way is liable to give rise to community tension, I was disappointed that little detail was provided on how the new Council proposed to deal with non-offensive graffiti on private property. 

Graffiti on buildings, walls, street furniture and other locations sends out a negative image about the area, signifying a general decay and lack of pride in the surrounding place. If our new Borough is to develop and prosper we must be prepared to tackle the difficult issues which deter people from visiting, living, working or investing in the area. Graffiti plastered around local neighbourhoods, Town Centres and Business Districts needs a co-ordinated robust approach otherwise we face allegations or a tacit acceptance of this criminal behaviour whereby people somehow consider it acceptable to deface buildings, telephone boxes and other similar locations.

I am therefore delighted that Councillors agreed with the arguments I and some others set out at the Committee in January and that Council officers have now beefed up the policy with a strategy to deal with non-offensive graffiti on private property, as finances and resources permit. This new get tough approach is to be welcomed and whilst I recognise that Council resources are not infinite, I hope the new policy will deployed to deal with incidents where buildings and other locations are covered in graffiti which destroy the appearance of the local neighbourhoods and need the intervention of Council to ensure removal.