Tough stand on graffiti

CHINDERAH motel owner and Tweed Shire councillor Kevin Skinner has won a battle to have the council declare war on graffiti.

But the unanimous decision by Tweed Shire councillors on Tuesday night to take a tough line of graffiti coincided with calls for a special wall to be provided as an outlet for graffiti artists.

Greens Party councillor Katie Milne said the council should accept it has “a responsibility to provide an opportunity for young people's youth expression” with a dedicated wall.

After agreeing to ask council staff to investigate funding special graffiti facilities in next year's budget, Cr Skinner won support from Cr Milne and all other councillors to adopt “a policy of zero tolerance of graffiti”.

“It's quite obvious throughout the shire we have a major problem with graffiti,” he said.

“We need to locate any graffiti and have it removed as soon as possible

“Council should enforce the law. If you want to write rubbish all over a wall, go and get your own wall.

But Cr Milne said the council should pursue options other than simply seeking to enforce the law.

“I suggest to you it (graffiti) is an expression of anger in some cases,” she said.

“If we go out of our way to provide a graffiti expression wall ... that could stop the problem. There are a number of council walls we could provide, and we could be a bit more creative without being punitive.”

The council's director of engineering and operations Patrick Knight warned the policy could have “some budgetary implications”, particularly with regard to the costs of removing graffiti.

The councillors voted to also ask the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority to also adopt a 'zero tolerance' policy towards graffiti, and an advertising campaign is to carried out in the council's free newsletter, the Tweed Link to discourage graffiti.

The decision comes despite an admission by council staff just eight months ago that the council does not have the resources - either financial or physical - to maintain 165 bus shelters, many of which are consistently targeted by graffiti vandals.

At the time staff said money spent repairing and cleaning damaged shelters could be put to better use elsewhere in the shire.

Late last year Tweed police spoke out against a graffiti scourge which they attributed partly to located gangs they described as criminals.

Tweed/Byron area commander Michael Kenny said graffiti was malicious damage and therefore a criminal activity. He said graffiti tags left by local youth gangs were often offensive and vulgar.

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