Writing on wall in graffiti battle

A COMPANY which has worked with the CSIRO developing tough new types of paint says it has the answer to Tweed's growing graffiti problem.

But Tweed Shire Council is not convinced, saying the current practice of cover-up painting probably remains cheaper - despite a decision by councillors just seven months ago to “pursue a policy of zero tolerance of graffiti.”

Melbourne company Nanokote which says it has worked with the CSIRO on nanotechnology - the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale - believes it has the answer for local councils faced with soaring bills for cleaning up graffiti.

A recent report to Tweed Shire council said the direct cost of removing offensive graffiti each year was $25,000 and although the cost of treating non-offensive graffiti was absorbed into general maintenance, a rough estimate was a further $70,000 a year.

Nanokote claims cleaning up graffiti across Australia is $300 million every year and is passed on to the community through higher service costs, insurance premiums and council rates.

Company spokesman John Caprioglio said a new anti-graffiti product, Eco-Barrier, could save councils, public transport suppliers and infrastructure authorities a combined $200 million per year if they use the product.

He said Nanokote is working with a number of Victorian councils to apply Eco-Barrier in public spaces to help implement the Victorian government's graffiti management strategy.

But Tweed council is unconvinced. A spokesperson pointed to an earlier report which said “anti-graffiti coatings may make it easier to remove graffiti but are not always cost effective”.

The report conceded, “in some cases anti-graffiti coatings are essential - for example clear panels in bus shelters, or noticeboards”.

It added: “In most cases it is more cost-effective to simply paint over affected areas.”According to Mr Caprioglio his company's product was recently tested by rail network supplier Connex at Flinders Street station in Melbourne which “is tagged with graffiti every 20 minutes”.

A Connex spokesperson said the firm found the coating superior to other anti-graffiti products trialled because it was easily cleaned and prevented graffiti from recurring.

He said the paint-on coating was transparent and permanent.

It could be used on all surfaces including concrete, brick, paint, timber, metal, glass and plastic and the product was also resistant to UV and moisture.

“Once a surface is coated, graffiti can be easily removed by using a readily available environmentally friendly cleaner, saving thousands in cleaning and maintenance costs,” he said.

When councillors adopted their zero-tolerance policy to graffiti in January, some residents were outraged saying the council should provide special areas, such as levee walls in Murwillumbah, for young artists to express themselves.

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