London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
200. The photographs that have been placed before
you are identified as being primarily of London Underground or
British Rail properties and I think Mr Miles did indeed say he
had reported them to Railtrack and was awaiting action. A lot
of the graffiti in London, in particular, appears to be on public
property in the form of Railtrack and London Underground and some
measures need to be in place to address those. That forms the
principal part of the concern the Government has.
201. The second part I would like to mention - and
I am not sure if I am confused on this issue - is in relation
to 6A which does not enable the council to recover expenses against
domestic properties but they are still able to charge if they
are requested to take action. I am not sure where the balance
lies in this. I wonder if I could get clarification on that before
I go any further.
202. MR LEWIS: In a sense, that is really what already
happens anyway. The councils can remove graffiti and charge for
it if requested to do so by whoever the property owner is - whether
they are residential or commercial property owners. The distinction
to be drawn is that here we are talking about those few cases
where the property owner does not request the council to remove
the graffiti and the council has to serve a default notice and,
therefore, make a charge if the default notice is not complied
203. We are not altering that, really, in any way;
the council will still be able to charge when asked to remove
graffiti. It is only in the fall-back position where the exemption
is being made for the property owners.
204. LORD ELTON: Can I ask the Promoters: if this
preserves the status quo, in what sense is it necessary?
If this is what already happens, why is it necessary to add to
205. MR LEWIS: One of the reasons I have already
explained, I think, is that in terms of commercial property ----
206. LORD ELTON: I am sorry, I am referring to domestic
properties which is what I think you referred to.
207. MR LEWIS: Why is the exemption necessary? I
am sorry, I am not quite sure if I have followed the question.
208. LORD ELTON: The charge was levied against you
that this was something new. You have replied that this is what
already happens. I understand you are saying that this is the
case because of the exemption. In that case, the question answers
209. MR LEWIS: Shall we go back to the beginning?
Section 12, as it stands, enables the council to remove graffiti
when requested to do so and make a charge for it. It also enables
the council to serve the notice requiring a person to remove the
graffiti and where the person does not do so enables the council
to remove the graffiti themselves, but it does not enable them
to make a charge for doing so.
210. LORD ELTON: That is the present position?
211. MR LEWIS: That is the present position. What
we are doing is altering that second limb by enabling a charge
to be made where a notice has been served requiring it to be removed.
212. CHAIRMAN: On commercial property, not private
213. LORD TORDOFF: What is the incentive, in that
case, for a private owner to do anything other than to say "I
am not going to do it, you get on with it"? If the situation
is that you can go to a private owner and say "Look, this
has to be removed, will you get on with it?" and he then
has to pay £50, the incentive, surely, is for him then to
say "No, I will not. You get on with it and then you will
have to pay for it."
214. MR LEWIS: That is the position at the moment,
because, of course, if the council points out to the residential
property owner "There is graffiti and the council would very
much like it to be removed and will do so if you ask us to do
it, but we will charge you", then he could still say "No,
you get on and do it yourself" because as the section stands
at the moment no charge can be made in default. So we are not
altering that at all. What we are altering, of course ----
215. CHAIRMAN: As far as residential owners are concerned,
there is no change.
216. MR LEWIS: So the incentive, if you like, is
not there already.
217. CHAIRMAN: The difference is that in future the
commercial owner, when he is required to remove it, if he does
not remove it the council will remove it and send him a bill,
having already told him how much the charge is going to be.
218. MR LEWIS: Under the terms of the code of practice.
219. CHAIRMAN: The Home Office opposes that. Part
of that is the change in the situation, is it not? The Home Office
opposes that because it feels that commercial owners are victims
of crime and therefore should not have to panic?
(Mr Sanderson) That is pretty much it, reinforced
by the exclusions that have been retained by what appear to be
some of the major recipients being excluded from the provisions
of the Bill. We would like to see a common approach to graffiti
across all premises.