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