There were some raised eyebrows yesterday when the Council announced that £40,000 from a “rates pooling system” would be spent on art initiatives on the Castle car park.
The project was touted as being integral to the consultations still taking place on the future of the “Castle Gateway” area.
That is the consultation which started off in an exemplary and inclusive way but which is now disappearing into a mass of self-contradictions and public agonising.
Projecting artwork images onto Clifford’s Tower will tell us little more than we already know.
So, what could £40,000 buy that might make a bigger, and probably more sustained, difference to the York visitor economy?
The answer may lie in what you see when you look out of a train window when approaching the City. The Minster dominates the skyline but lower down we have a different picture. We have our fair share of graffiti and weed infested public spaces.
It affects the image of the City and gives an impression of neglect.
The priority given to environmental crime by the Council can be seen in a report that its executive will receive next week. It reviews the successes and failures of the last year.
Littering and dog fouling don’t merit a mention. Prosecutions for those offences are rare
The number of graffiti cases does get a passing mention. There has been a recent upward trend in reports. N
o information is provided on the number of successful prosecutions.
It seems that people may have stopped reporting issues because the Council refuses to address those that are on “private property”. This includes boundary walls and telecoms junction cabinets. The real impact is probably much greater than the authorities will currently admit.
Some Councillors commendably are taking local initiatives.
In Dringhouses Cllr Stephen Fenton has been out with a graffiti removal kit.
Independent Councillor Mark Warters has called for the owners of street cabinets (companies like Virgin Media) to be more systematic in getting graffiti removed quickly.
The new LibDem administration has promised to reinstate the Street Environment Officer system which worked well during the last decade when dealing with environmental crime issues.
All these initiatives are welcome.
However, an initial clean-up of all graffiti in the City followed by the deployment of camera surveillance to identify any repeat offenders would be a good way to invest any LCR funds which may be available.