'Not everyone's a Banksy': Reading's proposed graffiti crackdown would remove more tags for free

050321-banksy reading gaol-Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images
This Banksy appeared on the side of HMP Reading. Credit: PA

Reading Borough Council has announced a proposed town-wide graffiti purge to crack down on 'unsightly tags and scribbles'.

The local authority is looking at doubling the size of graffiti it will remove for free from private property.

A proposed change in policy would see the Council remove graffiti measuring up to 2-square metres from private buildings for free. It currently removes graffiti up to 1-sqm.

The change is expected to allow for the removal of up to 500 additional pieces of graffiti in Reading, on top of 37 sites already proposed to have tags scrubbed away.

After the appearance of a Banksy artwork on HMP Reading in March, a councillor said the authority has noted a strong community desire to retain street art - but not all of it.

Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said of the jail art work: "Reading’s Banksy became a cultural landmark literally overnight, but most graffiti is not so welcome.

"This new initiative will allow us to respond to more of residents’ reports of unsightly tags, scribbles and other graffiti that does not enhance our town.

"As Reading continues to grow, the Council is committed to ensuring our residential areas are as attractive as they can be to live in."

The proposed change in policy will be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee on Wednesday, November 10.

The council also plans to provide up to 20 community removal kits to help empower local community groups to take their own action to rid their neighbourhoods of low-level graffiti.

The clean-up is being funded through £75,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

CIL is a charge applied to developers when they build new housing in Reading, allowing local communities to benefit from the work.

Procedures have been since been proposed to ensure street art that could be of community or economic value is not removed.