In the past twelve months Brighton and Hove has become the victim of an epidemic of graffiti, artlessly and indiscriminately scrawled across every unguarded wall and render, or so it seems. No building is safe. Even security shutters are not safe. Property owners hardly dare put up scaffolding for fear of enabling access to these talentless vandals.
It is a well known fact that graffiti, if not removed immediately, quickly leads to even more graffiti which in turn leads to defacement of the whole neighbourhood, like a cancer, bringing the area down both aesthetically and economically as it increasingly resembles a ghetto. Our city already suffers from a large number of empty commercial premises and these are even less likely to be re-let if graffiti is allowed to proliferate.
We at Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission wholly condemn the criminal activity of graffiti and suggest Brighton and Hove City Council bring in the following measures as a matter of urgency:
1. Property owners to be compelled to remove or paint over graffiti within 7 working days of it being reported.
2. Compulsory fitting of scaffold alarms to all building works (inexpensive and also recommended for health and safety as well as security reasons).
3. Fines of up to £50,000 (or 5 years imprisonment) for anyone caught in the act of executing graffiti, to bring this into line with the council fines currently imposed for the improper disposal of bulky waste and fly tipping. Any monies collected could then form a fund to help recover council costs and offer compensation to victims of graffiti for costs incurred in its removal.
Brighton and Hove may be known as a liberal city, but this graffiti scourge is a blot on our landscape impinging on the quality of life and the built environment which cannot be tolerated.