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Rejection of graffiti bill deeply disappointing

Media Release
23 November 2006

Select committee rejection of Manukau graffiti bill deeply disappointing

Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he is bitterly disappointed that the Manukau City Council’s graffiti bill has not been supported by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

The committee’s report has recommended that the local bill not proceed. The passage of the bill would have enabled stronger action to be taken on graffiti vandalism in Manukau.

Sir Barry says he is very angry that the committee appears to have ignored the evidence in making its decision.

“It seems to me the committee had made up its mind early on and no amount of facts to the contrary would change that. I think the committee members are very distant from the reality of the situation in Manukau and don’t understand the scale of the problem.”

The Manukau City Council funds the Manukau Beautification Trust to remove tagging in the city. The Trust erases 300,000 tags a year.

Sir Barry says, “The council alone is spending a million dollars a year eradicating graffiti. Property owners also spend their own money to remove it and that could well amount to millions of dollars more.

“I suggest to the committee that we stop removing tags for a week and then see what the result is. The city would be covered in graffiti.

“The only reason the problem is being kept under control is because we have a very effective elimination programme.

“But it’s just band-aiding. Only a small number of people are doing all the damage but we are powerless to stop them. We have a photographic database of 400,000 tags which confirms the same group of taggers is extremely active all over the city.

“They are not just attacking low income areas. Beachside suburbs like Howick are also being defaced. And the tags are getting bigger and bigger and therefore more ugly and invasive, with some being three metres high and wide. The aim of our bill was to identify and take action against those people because prevention is better than cure.

“The committee refers to a national initiative on graffiti being drawn up over the next four years. We should not have to wait that long to get the tools we need to take action. This bill was our best option.

“However we are not going to give up. Although the committee has recommended that our bill not go ahead, it is up to the House to determine whether or not to accept that recommendation. I very much hope MPs realise the committee has made a mistake and will vote for the bill to proceed.”

ENDS

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