A VISION to improve Stalybridge is being undermined by a sustained war against graffiti.
A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, sent The Correspondent photographs from the town centre, especially along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which underlines the scale of the problem.
They added there is even grafitti on the newly erected canalside fencing running alongside the former Hartshead Power Station.
The resident said: “It seems to be getting worse and is now a blight on the town centre and surrounds.
“Don’t think the answer is to paint over it as that just provides the perpetrators with another blank canvass. They want identifying and prosecuting.
“Tameside Council is working on a vision for Stalybridge masterplan which includes a new heritage trail. Wondering then if maybe this grafitti is a new community art project that residents have not yet been made aware of.”
They added councillors are fully aware of the concerns from residents and business owners.
“To be honest the situation over recent months has got far worse. It needs actions not words to resolve it quickly before it gets totally out of hand,” they said.
Cllr Liam Billington, who lives in Stalybridge town centre, and Cllr David Sweeton have been working on the issue.
“Some people describe graffiti as an art form, but as far as I am concerned it is vandalism and a criminal act. It is disgusting what is going on,” explained Cllr Billington.
He added some people have suggested there ought to be a wall in the town specifically for graffiti artists, but he believes that would simply exacerbate the problems by attracting more of them.
“There is a graffiti wall in Cheetham Park which I find tacky. There are nicer ways to gentrify a town,” he continued.
Cllr Billington claimed police know the identities of the perpetrators who are from outside the town, but it is a case of catching them in the act.
He pointed out Tameside Council have been “great” donating graffiti removal kits to Stalybridge Town Team and offering training to use it, though this has not taken place because of lockdown restrictions.
Cllr Billington added much of the graffiti is on private land belonging to the Canal and Rivers Trust so comes outside Tameside Council’s jurisdiction.
He said: “I have personally offered to buy a pressure washer to remove the graffiti but have been told I need permission from the owner.
“And I have been warned I would face prosecution if the chemicals polluted the water.
“The community has been great coming together for canal clean ups, but the graffiti has not been dealt with which is annoying and frustrating.”