Small firms snub council’s graffiti team

Small businesses contacted about graffiti on their property have not responded to council requests to clean it off.

Brighton and Hove City Council contacted seven businesses in August after councillors agreed to stop issuing fines to small and independent traders blighted by tagging.

Conservative councillor Anne Meadows raised the issue at the council’s City Environment, South Downs and the Sea Committee meeting on Tuesday (19 September).

At the meeting at Hove Town Hall, Councillor Meadows asked how long the council would continue to suspend the fines regime.

A report to the committee said that of the seven businesses asked to remove graffiti, “some” had refused to speak with council environmental enforcement officers and take the letter.

Councillor Meadows said: “What is the plan if that pattern continues and businesses refuse to engage with the council (and) refuse to remove the graffiti?

“Is the council going to return to community protection warnings and community protection notices and fine small local businesses for failing to remove graffiti?

“These small businesses are surely the victims of crime and should not and may not, due to lots of factors, be able to afford to keep removing graffiti within a certain timeframe, especially if it is continual tagging.”

Green councillor Kerry Pickett was also concerned about how long the council would continue to pause the fines, given that those contacted so far had ignored communication or refused to remove graffiti.

Labour councillor Tim Rowkins, who chairs the committee, said that businesses were “double victims” when they experienced vandalism and were then threatened with a fine.

And this was the reason why the council had stopped fining small independent traders.

He said that the council would not want a knee-jerk reaction in the early stages of not fining businesses but would review the situation.

Councillor Rowkins said: “We believe they will continue to be, in most cases, responsible and remove the graffiti from their own premises.

“Our intention is to have a more helpful and supportive role until we get good information that we should do otherwise.”

A senior council official, Lynsay Cook, the head of improvement and modernisation, said that the issue of whether or not to fine small businesses was something that could be included in a public consultation on the graffiti reduction strategy.

The committee agreed to start a public consultation to refresh the graffiti strategy and action plan.

A report to the committee said that the consultation would not herald a change to the £275,000 budget for tackling graffiti which was “fully spent” every year.

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