Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence


Sections 140-159

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Tuesday 18 February 2003

140. However, the Promoters recognise that they, the councils, are not in the business of entering on to railway tracks and operational railway land to remove graffiti. This should be the responsibility of the railway undertaker. It is a dangerous business and, in many cases, we are told that there is so little time particularly on the railways lines, rather than the sidings themselves, for there to be any effective action taken overnight between the times when the trains are running, which explains why there is a prevalence of graffiti on the railways. The risk is taken by those who write the graffiti in the first place, and it is understandable that those risks do not want to be taken by councils. Of course, it is for the railway undertakers themselves to decide whether they wish to take those risks.

141. The councils, under the protective provisions, would still be able to remove graffiti from railway operator's land, but only in cases where the public can actually gain access to the railway land. For example, a wall alongside a railway track which faces outwards to the road would still be the subject of these provisions and the council would still be able to serve notice on the railway undertaker requiring them to remove the graffiti; and the council would be able to remove the graffiti in default if it was not done.

142. The answer I am afraid, Lord Elton, to your question as to whether plant and apparatus includes railway carriages, is probably yes; but at the same time I do not think the councils would have the power to require the removal of graffiti under section 12.

143. LORD ELTON: I should not have leapt forward to a clause before we got to it. I think your explanation is a satisfactory one.

144. MR LEWIS: Before asking Mr Miles some questions, I would quickly flick through the other documents which you have got behind tab 1. You have already seen 1A.

145. 1B I was not intending to refer to unless I had to, which sets out sections 291 and 293 of the Public Health Act 1936, which we intend to incorporate within section 12.

146. Next you have some fairly lurid pictures of graffiti, which actually come within the London Borough of Wandsworth. Mr Miles has also brought along some pictures from Hammersmith and Fulham as well, which we will show you in a second.

147. Finally, I include the whole of an adjournment debate which took place in the other Place on 11 July 2002. I do not ask you to read through the whole thing. If we look at column 1139 on the lefthand side of the penultimate page, you will see that this is the response to the adjournment debate of the Minister, Mr Denham. The London Local Authorities Bill, you will see, is mentioned in the second full paragraph saying:

148. "The London Local Authorities Bill includes measures that would make it an offence in the course of business to supply aerosol paint or indelible marker pens to any person apparently under the age of 18. It would require retailers to restrict physical access to those materials, and that would apply to the area covered by London borough councils. The Bill has now had its Second Reading in the House of Lords"

149. It goes on at the end of the next paragraph to say: "The measures in the London Local Authorities Bill, if enacted, could provide a useful pilot for determining the effectiveness of such an approach and whether we should be seeking to extend it further."

150. My Lords, I am not saying that Mr Denham was agreeing to clause 19 in what he said there. He clearly has positive views on the previous clause regarding the sale of spray points.

151. If we go down to the last full paragraph on 1139, however, he says: "It is right to say to businesses that they need to play their part - especially companies that own street furniture such as telephone boxes, bus shelters and cable company utility boxes. They need to take responsibility for removing graffiti promptly from those structures. Local authorities are not able to require private companies to remove graffiti from their property". That is not entirely true because the London boroughs can under section 12, but they are the only boroughs in the country which can. "There needs to be a common, responsible approach towards graffiti among all service providers".

152. My Lords, those reflect the views of the London borough council as well, as Mr Miles will describe.

MR MICHAEL MILES, Sworn

Examined by MR LEWIS

153. If I could hand up the additional documents which Mr Miles has brought with him. I will ask Mr Miles to introduce himself. Mr Miles, can you give the Committee your job

description?

(Mr Miles) My Lords, I am employed as Operations Manager for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. I have been in this position for approximately six years. However, I have been employed by the Council since 1984. My duties as Operations Manager include the day-to-day running of the Council's Street Cleansing Department, which takes in graffiti removal. Over the last several years, we have had to deal with an increasing problem with the defacement of roads and streets and furniture on the street with graffiti. It is my responsibility to ensure that that is removed from the street.

154. Mr Miles, could we go through what you have handed in. We have provided some photographs of the problem as it exists in Hammersmith and Fulham. It would be useful, if you know the answer to this question, if you could indicate to their Lordships exactly where the places are; but if you do not I understand it. Also, perhaps you could explain whether what we see here is typical of the problem.

(Mr Miles) I am sorry, I cannot say exactly where each piece of graffiti is. I can tell you that the majority of it is either Railtrack on London Transport land. Certainly all of it is commercial property of one form or another. I would say that it is typical of the sort of problem we get in Hammersmith and Fulham with commercial properties and, in particular, Railtrack and London Underground.

155. LORD TORDOFF: Could I ask one question on graffiti. Is what we see here all done with spray paint, or is some of it done with marker pens?

(Mr Miles) It is a combination of marker pens, but predominantly it is spray paints.

156. MR LEWIS: Is there a particular problem with marker pens? Would you be able to give an indication of the proportion of the problem between marker pens and spray paints? Presumably spray paint is more significant?

(Mr Miles) Spray paint is definitely the majority of the graffiti we come across.

157. LORD ELTON: In your experience when these graffiti are dealt with, as it is put in the paper, or removed, how long is it before they reoccur?

(Mr Miles) It is difficult to say, but evidence shows that removing it quickly on a regular basis tends to stop it from happening. What the graffiti artist is trying to do is advertise himself and get his tag recognised. If we can keep removing that on a regular basis as quickly as possible it defeats the object.

158. MR LEWIS: If we just move on to the cost of dealing with graffiti. If we can turn back to your GLA Report, you will see first of all at paragraph 3.13 ----

159. LORD ELTON: Could you repeat the number, please?


 
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