The new Labour leader of the council is looking to scrap fines for traders who have been victims of graffiti and tagging.
Councillor Bella Sankey tweeted this morning (Thursday 1 June): “We’re committed to improving the look of our city and that means clearing up unsightly graffiti while providing more space for public art.
“But it can never be right to penalise small businesses in this way. So we’re reviewing these fines immediately.”
The fines were introduced by Brighton and Hove City Council under the Greens, with critics saying that they were being tough on crime and tough on the victims of crime.
Before the local elections, the issue was highlighted by a Brighton and Hove Independent candidate, Adrian Hart, in an opinion column for Brighton and Hove News.
The article noted the start of a new organisation, Business and Residents Against Tagging (BRAT), aimed at tackling the problem.
And just two days ago, Brighton and Hove News highlighted the case of another seafront trader who was threatened with by a fine by the council.
She was told that she would be fined if she didn’t paint over the tagging but said that the council should spend money on paint and help traders.
Eva Hellqvist, who owns OhSoSwedish on the Lower Esplanade, next to the Palace Pier, was visited by environmental enforcement officers this week after vandals tagged the shop shutters.
The council introduced fines for traders who left graffiti up for more than 28 days as part of a drive to clean up Brighton and Hove.
The trader has agreed to do so but called for the proceeds to be spent on paint which could be requested by small traders after finding out that the council had so far received £1,500 in fines from businesses who had left tags up.
The trader’s partner Ken Frost said: “Reducing graffiti is laudable. However, to criminalise the traders and threaten them with fines without offering them any help is a policy that is generating ill will from traders who already pay the council rent for ever diminishing services and support.
“My partner has asked the council many times for paint to cover up the graffiti to no avail.
“At the very least I suggest it uses the £1,500 raised thus far to supply the traders with paint to cover up the graffiti.”
We’re committed to improving the look of our City & that means clearing up unsightly graffiti while providing more space for public art.
But it can never be right to penalise small businesses in this way.
So we’re reviewing these fines immediately!https://t.co/t2GGLkuus0
— Bella Sankey (@BellaSankey) June 1, 2023
The council said: “We will be reviewing the council’s policy on graffiti management with immediate effect.
“The idea of spending money collected from graffiti fines on paint for traders is an interesting one. We’re very grateful to OhSoSwedish for suggesting it.
“This suggestion will be considered during our review, and we would welcome any other ideas residents have for getting rid of graffiti.
“Residents can report graffiti on www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/graffiti or by calling our graffiti hotline on 01273 295063.”