Graffiti clean up costs £2m in five years

GLASGOW has forked out more than £2million removing graffiti from across the city in the past five years.

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Jason Flanagan, of the Community Safety Glasgow team, sprays a wall covered in graffiti on Shieldhall Road, Govan
Jason Flanagan, of the Community Safety Glasgow team, sprays a wall covered in graffiti on Shieldhall Road, Govan

The Evening Times can reveal that since 2009 around £2.1m has been spent targeting the damage caused by graffiti vandals.

Official figures show the cost to remove spray painted 'gang tags', offensive words and other types of street vandalism is steadily increasing.

Around £528,800 was spent in 2008/09 while an estimated £541,359 was shelled out during 2012/13 - about £1483 a day.

Despite this, the amount of graffiti appears to be falling.

Community Safety Glas-gow (CSG) runs the graffiti removal service and is part of the Clean Glasgow campaign, which was launched by Glasgow City Council and CSG in 2007.

In 2009/10, it recorded 164,946 metres - and last year they got rid of 113,591m.

City council leader Gordon Matheson said it was "disappointing" that vandals were continuing to target the city - but that Clean Glasgow was making sure it was removed.

There are also concerns over the high amount of graffiti in the city centre and surrounding area, especially in the run up to the Commonwealth Games.

Darren Lambie, head of the graffiti removal service at CSG, said his team used a proactive approach and treated offensive vandalism as high priority.

He said: "We react each day to the public's comp-laints who highlight where graffiti has been located.

"If it is high priority -which would be offensive things such as sectarian comments, racist words or homophobic graffiti, there's an obligation on us as a centre to get it removed within two working days.

"Those pieces are responded to first and foremost."

Mr Lambie said his team found it satisfying to clean up vandalised areas quickly.

HE said he received a call from a councillor two weeks ago alerting him of racist vandalism in the Southern Necropolis.

He said: "A constituent had been in there and there was racist graffiti.

"On that afternoon I got my guys to go up there and take it off. We do have a good response service on that type of thing - we work closely with the council in terms of parks and things like cemeteries.

"We have a duty to remove or paint over these sorts of things."

The CSG teams have 20 working days to remove general or non-offensive graffiti reported to them.

However, the patrols look out for vandalism and act on it when they see it.

Mr Lambie said: "It's a proactive engagement. Our workers will take the graffiti off when and where they see it.

"Communities and elected members are confident that we are taking it off, so that has been a big step forward for us."

Mr Lambie said workers spent a lot of time in the city centre.

He said: "We do our fair share of taking graffiti down from the Anderston and city centre area.

"There is a concentrated effort in particular within the city centre."

City Centre/Anderston Greens councillor Nina Baker said she hoped there would be a crackdown on vandalism before the Games in July.

She said: "Graffiti is a high priority for residents across the ward and it is my impression that reported instances are dealt with quickly.

"A key concern in the city centre will be the specialist treatments I assume are needed when cleaning old stone buildings.

"I would certainly like to see a systematic blitz across the city centre of both graffiti and chewing gum prior to Glasgow 2014."

Mr Matheson said: "The Clean Glasgow initiative has been up and running since 2007 and continues to be a great success.

"It is a campaign with a straightforward goal - to make our city and every neighbourhood within it a cleaner, safer place.

"Clearly, it is disappointing that there remains a minority that has no respect for their city or fellow Glaswegians.

"However, we are making sure graffiti is removed and I thank everyone who calls the Clean Glasgow hotline to report it when it does appear."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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