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From your Mayor - 26 March 2024

Mayor Anita Baker-extend-base-768x402px

My heart sinks every time I see graffiti polluting our shared spaces – and there’s been a spike in this kind of vandalism in and around the city centre of late. It’s not just ugly and off-putting, it’s a constant drain on Council resources to clean up the resulting mess.

The presence of graffiti, even a small amount, instantly overwhelms the combined efforts of Council, local business owners and the vast majority of residents to keep the city centre tidy, attractive and appealing to visitors. That’s why we will always prioritise prompt remediation but, as more and more graffiti crops up each week, it’s a strain to keep up.

This latest spate of tagging undermines our collective sense of community safety and sends a terrible message to locals and visitors alike. It’s also notoriously difficult to police because acts of vandalism like this are opportunistic by nature and the damage can be done in a matter of seconds, more often than not under the cover of darkness. We also don’t want – and couldn’t possibly afford – the installation of CCTV cameras surveilling the city centre all day and night.

Since we can’t realistically expect Police or council officers to catch these taggers in the act of each and every crime, we can only push back by holding each other to account and making it clear that the costs and consequences are unacceptably high.

Shop and restaurant owners pay the price of these selfish, destructive acts when fewer people feel comfortable venturing out, especially at night. Hardly a week goes by without hearing this directly from affected businesses. Workers in the city centre (myself included) hate to see it. Ratepayers foot the bill of the constant clean-up efforts when those resources would be far better spent elsewhere – like protecting the harbour through riparian planting. And the ugliness diminishes our shared sense of wellbeing and security. It erodes pride of place – and it needs to stop.

26 Mar 2024