London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
160. MR LEWIS: 3.13 on page 17. I may just read out
the relevant parts. In 3.13 the report says "In this section
we have identified expenditure of approximately £7 million
per annum by London Boroughs and over £6 million a year by
the Transport companies....This combined cost of £13 million
rises to £23 million if the costs of replacing all the etched
glass on the underground is taken into account. London Underground
also stated that it could cost them hundreds of millions of pounds
to remove track side graffiti and etched train panels.
161. "3.14 The figure of £23 million does
not take other costs into consideration such as costs to businesses,
utilities, rail companies, Railtrack, homeowners, voluntary organisations,
the loss of investment opportunities and capital values, and the
funding of various education and diversionary programmes. We were
unable to identify accurately these additional costs in this report,
but we estimate that the cost of graffiti to the London economy
each year exceeds £100 million." Mr Miles, could you
give the Committee an idea of how much Hammersmith and Fulham
spend on graffiti removal?
(Mr Miles) Currently we are spending in excess
of £250,000 on graffiti cleansing. That does not include
the amount of money that is also being spent on anti-graffiti
coatings that are being put in subways and other areas. In the
report that you have in front of you ----
162. On page 15.
(Mr Miles) On page 15 of the report, it does
give some indication as to what other boroughs in London are spending:
Wandsworth £625,000; Lambeth £600,000, Camden £350,000.
So a considerable amount of money is being spent by all London
Boroughs on trying to tackle this problem.
163. Could you give the Committee an idea of how
many staff are employed in a graffiti unit and perhaps explain
as well how Hammersmith and Fulham Council operates under section
12 as it stands?
(Mr Miles) In Hammersmith and Fulham we have
a team of six dedicated staff with three vehicles totally dedicated
to the removal of graffiti in parks, open spaces and highways.
Housing have their own teams which they run as part of the caretaking
service. In Hammersmith and Fulham what we try to do is any graffiti
that is reported to us we remove within five working days, unless
it is offensive and then we try to remove it within 24 hours,
and we have a very good success rate on that. When graffiti is
reported to us what we do is we write to the owner of the property
if it is not council owned and ask them if they would like help
in removing it, if we can provide them with assistance, or alternatively,
if they are unable to do it themselves, we will come and remove
it for them at a charge because of the cost that we incur in removing
it. Should they not do that we then try to encourage them to remove
it themselves. Under section 12 if we do impose a notice and we
do ask them to remove it and they choose not to we are then left
with a situation where we will remove the graffiti but also incur
the cost with no way of recouping our cost, which is a problem
for us obviously on the budget.
164. CHAIRMAN: But you said, Mr Lewis, that you have
now brought an amendment to the Bill to allow homeowners not to
165. MR LEWIS: That is correct.
166. CHAIRMAN: That would be a new step for Mr Miles,
167. MR LEWIS: What Mr Miles would be able to do
on the Bill as it currently stands with the amendments in the
case where a commercial property owner does not want the assistance
of the council in removing the graffiti and refuses to do so himself,
it will enable the council to serve notice and in default of the
property owner carrying out the works himself the council will
then, as they are able at the moment, be able to enter the property
and remove the graffiti themselves, but in the case of a commercial
property owner they would be able to make a charge.
168. CHAIRMAN: Commercial property, not residential?
169. MR LEWIS: Not residential. I think, Mr Miles,
you are perfectly happy for that distinction to be drawn, are
(Mr Miles) Absolutely.
170. CHAIRMAN: Up to now you have been trying to
charge residential owners?
(Mr Miles) Yes, we have. The fee that we charge
is just the cost that we incur in removing graffiti. We are not
in the process of trying to make any money.
171. In future you will not be able to charge them,
you will have to do it?
(Mr Miles) No, I do not think ----
172. MR LEWIS: The council would still be able to
charge if they are requested to remove the graffiti by the homeowner.
What they will not be able to do is in default carry out the works
themselves and charge. They will still be able to carry out the
works but not charge.
173. CHAIRMAN: Very often this occurs on the outside
wall of a homeowner's property, the end of a terrace and so on,
so there is nothing that a homeowner can do about it, so to speak.
(Mr Miles) I would say, as previously stated,
this is an act of criminal damage. If someone was to damage your
fence or break your fence you would not expect the council then
to have it repaired for you, it is criminal damage. Graffiti is
exactly the same, it is criminal damage and should be reported
to the police.
174. LORD ELTON: Could I ask two questions. The first
is either globally through the Promoters or from your local authority
figures. What would you expect to be the effect on the expenditure
of graffiti, the net cost of graffiti, to the authority or to
all the authorities of bringing in this Bill as amended?
175. MR LEWIS: I think it is fair to say in the case
of Hammersmith and Fulham at least, and perhaps it would be better
if we move on to describe the distinction between the cases where
the council now does remove graffiti and those where it does not
because I think the benefit for Hammersmith is slightly different,
which I think Mr Miles would agree with. If you look at the figures
which Mr Miles has also handed up with the photographs you get
an idea of the number of incidents that are dealt with by the
176. The first page of those figures deals with council
properties and parks where over 2,000 incidents were dealt with
altogether. The second page deals with cases where graffiti has
been reported to the council and also removed and there we have
something like 1,000 cases. In effect what happens in Hammersmith
- in a sense I am giving evidence for Mr Miles but I am sure he
will confirm what I am saying - is only those cases where council
property is affected or the property in parks is affected or where
the council have received a report about graffiti, only in those
cases do they actually deal with graffiti. The council does not
at the moment, if you like, have a proactive unit which goes out,
spots graffiti and removes it, and I think to be fair that is
because of lack of resources. What this charging provision it
is hoped will do is enable that proactive work to take place.
177. CHAIRMAN: Charging on commercial?
178. MR LEWIS: Exactly, on commercial properties.
179. LORD ELTON: So the net effect will be nil. More
work will be undertaken but it will be paid for not by the ratepayer,
by the taxpayer?
(Mr Miles) That is certainly what is hoped
for from this. Of the 50 per cent of the private residents that
were contacted and asked to remove the graffiti, over 50 per cent
declined. This will give us the opportunity on commercial properties
to go and enforce section 12 and recoup our costs. The theory
would be we will be doing more work.