Croydon Council £500k war on graffiti divides residents

Graffiti in Croydon. Pic: Duncan Cummings/Flickr

Croydon Council is due to spend £500,000 on graffiti removal, despite ongoing financial hardship.

The council axed its in-house graffiti team two years ago and decided to focus on only removing offensive graffiti, but earlier this year Conservative councillor, Jason Perry, then leader of the opposition, said graffiti was “spreading uncontrollably” in the area.

After being elected Croydon Mayor in May, he has now launched a £500,000 war on graffiti.

“Graffiti gives the wrong impression of Croydon as a place where we do not care about our streets and local areas,” he said.

“As Croydonians, we know that this is absolutely not the case and graffiti cannot continue to affect the quality of life across our neighbourhoods.”

Perry has pledged to get rid of vandalism in the borough, however, he will not be hiring an in-house removal team.

The council reported that there has been an increase in graffiti which has had an impact on residents’ and non-residents’ perceptions of the area.

 Mayor Jason Perry overseeing graffiti removal in Thorton Heath. Pic: Croydon council. 

The council will instead spend the budget on hiring external highway contractor FM Conway, as according to the council “clearing graffiti requires specialist machinery and is expensive”.

Earlier this year it was reported that Croydon Council is on the brink of bankruptcy, after a reported £73m shortfall was discovered.

Resident Angelina Turner told ELL: “I am surprised where the council is getting this money from… they filed for bankruptcy two years in a row yet a magical £500k appears out of nowhere to remove graffiti?”

“They [the council] spend so much money to make Croydon look better but looks will not change the nature of a place or the struggles its civilians go through.”

Turner further added: “When they had graffiti areas for people to use, not only did it decrease the amount seen around the city centre, but it invited some beautiful and now famous artworks, as well as giving the opportunity to various artists to display their work in a respectful and non-vandalistic way.”

RISEGallery, which has hosted artworks by famous artists such as Banksy, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, have created The Arts Quarter project which vows to inspire street artists around Croydon to showcase their artwork by finding legal walls and spaces suitable for graffiti. has listed Croydon as the second best borough to visit for street art – particularly near the Queen’s Gardens, Surrey Street market and Park Street.

But not everyone has the same perspective on Croydon Council’s decision to tackle graffiti. 

Resident Marie Charles said: “It’s about time they started tackling vandalism in the area. It was getting out of hand.”

“Swear words and offensive symbols plastered all over buildings and bridges – it gives a bad impression, you know? People passing through the area see it and then people wonder why Croydon gets a bad rep.”

The council offers advice to businesses and building owners about how to protect their properties from vandalism, such as an anti-graffiti coating service. 

Additionally, the council will continue supporting anti-vandalism groups in the neighbourhood to tackle this issue.

Perry said: “I remain firmly committed to rebuilding the image of Croydon as the attractive place to live, work, and visit, that we know it to be.”

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