ON PATROL: Byron United President, Paul Waters with some of approved street art that adorns Jonson Street Byron Bay.
ON PATROL: Byron United President, Paul Waters with some of approved street art that adorns Jonson Street Byron Bay.

Byron's smashed their graffiti problem, why can't we?

THREE years ago Paul Waters, president of Byron United, began a determined campaign to rid Byron Bay of illegal graffiti.

At the time he was working as a property manager in town and was spending about $2000 of his own money to clean up the illegal spray painting.

Now working in partnership with Byron Shire Council and scores of local volunteers he aims to clean up graffiti as soon as it appears.

"I have no problem with street art done by legiti- mate artists with the permission of property owners," he said.

"It's tagging that I don't like; it's just mindless, senseless vandalism,"

"One of our volunteers, who came from New York, made the observation that graffiti was a symbol of a decaying society. But Byron is not a decaying society and that's why we want it cleaned up."

Mr Waters believes the key lies in working with building owners and to react as quickly as possible when graffiti appears.

"The volunteers and I literally race to a site and sometimes council even beats us to it," he said.

"You can't leave it up there; you can't give the vandals any kudos."

Mr Waters also keeps cans of cover-up paint and solvents in his car to take out graffiti any time, any where.

He is also keen to support property owners in efforts to clean up the town.

"Businesses need to get behind the clean-up and the owners of buildings have to take some responsibility," he said.

"If they buy the paint we will paint it over and vice versa, we will supply the paint if they want to paint it over."

Mr Waters is well aware that the graffiti bandits are well-organised and mobile.

"It's about their feelings of helplessness and their perceived need to fight back against society.

"We are certainly open to making contact with these groups to help them find an appropriate outlet, but tagging the town is not acceptable," he said.



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