London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
220. CHAIRMAN: This is under the exclusion of
(Mr Sanderson) Railtrack and London Underground.
221. CHAIRMAN: It is in the amendments we have.
222. MR LEWIS: My Lords, I do have something to say
about that particular point but I do not want to interrupt now
if there are other points which need to be made.
223. CHAIRMAN: Could I ask the Home Office, what
happens if the owner of the commercial property just refuses to
do anything about it?
(Mr Sanderson) That is a very good question.
What I would suggest is, as I have been instructed to, a clause
would be imposed. However, if your Lordships decide such a measure
should go ahead there should be a universal approach to this matter
rather than people who may be recipients of graffiti being excluded
from it and taking very little action in doing so. That is the
reception that we are being given, the smaller businesses could
be quite angry.
224. CHAIRMAN: If they found that the Underground
is not and Railtrack is not ---
225. LORD TORDOFF: Your main objection is to the
exclusion of the various categories and notably the principle.
(Mr Sanderson) Our objection to the general
principle remains. We go beyond that and say that if your Lordships
accept that the charge can be levied in the committing of an offence
is accepted there must be one approach across the board.
226. CHAIRMAN: You also say, "We would like
to see some way of indemnifying local authorities against prosecution
for accidental damage when they remove graffiti at their cost".
Obviously that applies to the residential private property owner?
(Mr Sanderson) In particular to the street
furniture, which was a particular issue. Our understanding was
that the telecoms companies in particular are not very receptive
to their properties being cleaned up without their permission.
227. CHAIRMAN: They would not have been done without
their permission, would they?
228. MR LEWIS: No, but under the default powers they
could be, yes.
229. CHAIRMAN: They would be notified.
230. MR LEWIS: Our point in response to that is they
should jolly get on with it themselves. If they do not then we
will move in and do it.
231. CHAIRMAN: They would be notified first and given
232. LORD TORDOFF: In those circumstances the difference
is if the Home Office rule prevails you would not be able to charge
them for doing it on their behalf?
233. CHAIRMAN: They could do nothing about it and
leave it there until the council came long and dealt with it and
they could not reclaim the costs.
234. MR LEWIS: Unless they asked the council to do
it for them, which I suspect with the telecoms companies, and
I may be wrong, that does not happen that often.
235. MR MILES: Extremely rare.
236. LORD ELTON: The Home Office sees a situation
where a small shopkeeper is victimised and has an aerosol attack,
as it were, is forced to clear it up or have it cleared up for
him by the council and it recurs successively on number of occasions
we already discovered it is a very expensive thing to do
and there is nothing in the Bill as drafted to guard against
the injury that this person would suffer as a result, in his view,
at the hands of the local authority.
237. MR LEWIS: I hope that he would not think that
the graffiti was caused by the local authority, of course it is
caused by somebody else. First of all, I perhaps ought to say
that Mr Miles did mention there are various ways of dealing with
graffiti. I think he said he has recommended in many ways the
best way of dealing with it is by simply painting over it, which
presumably would not be too expensive for the property owner.
238. Secondly, part of the philosophy of the councils,
which has not been mentioned, is that the property owner should,
to a certain extent, at least be expected to take a certain amount
of pride in his property and that he should look after his own
property himself rather than rely upon the council. I do take
your point and I suspect in the case of repeat targets it could
be something that is dealt with in the code of practice. I am
saying that without instructions, but there is a possibility for
a movement in that direction I would think.
239. LORD ELTON: The Home Office objection was not
about damage from repeat offending it was the indignation of seeing
a bigger, richer concern next door being exempt from this charge.