Councillor Paul Baker is so fed up with the ever increasing tide of graffiti in his area and across the town that he is offering a £500 reward for information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of the perpetrators.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Baker, who represents Charlton Park, has become sick of the graffiti tagging which is blighting Cheltenham.
Mr Baker has pledged a £500 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the culprits, he said: “I am fed up with the actions of a small number of people who it seems take great pleasure in desecrating our beautiful town with ugly spray paint. “Often it is harmless but occasionally it is not and of course it costs the local tax payer thousands of pounds every year to remove it.
“I note that in his manifesto our Police commissioner promised a zero-tolerance approach to tackling anti-social behaviour and the Government has announced plans to make the culprits clear up their mess wearing high-vis jackets. That’s all well and good but first how about some real presence on our streets so that we can actually apprehend them?
“I am not aware of any arrests or successful prosecutions. There are certain hot spots which the police must be aware of and of course we have CCTV cameras in many locations too.
“I would say the Council does an excellent job cleaning up graffiti but they are constantly chasing their tails, no sooner is it removed than it reappears again only days or weeks later.
“By offering this reward I really hope that people will report this type of behaviour to help the police in what I accept is a difficult job given that this activity usually happens late at night.”
While graffiti tagging is often seen as a form of art or self-expression, ‘tagging’ includes the signiture of the perpetrator and is regarded as vandalism of someone else’s property. Graffiti, when done without authority, causes damage to public or private property, lowers property values, and, as we see around areas of Cheltenham, destroys our beautiful architechure.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire Chris Nelson said: “I understand Cllr Baker’s frustration. This kind of anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a blight on our communities.
“Tackling ASB has always been one of my priorities and my office has been very successful in attracting funding from the Home Office to address the issue. “Unfortunately, there is no overnight cure, but recent crime records show that working with the police and other partners there has been a reduction of more than 50% in ASB incidents generally across the county.
“The Police have a lot on their plate at the moment, but I will strive to see that improvement is maintained.”
Graffiti tagging is affecting the investment that companies are placing in Cheltenham. Demelsa Coleman of the Brewery Quarter said: “We absolutely love the graffiti art the Cheltenham Art Festival brings to our wonderful town, however, the tagging is not art and is the equivalent to litter.”