Time to clean up Edinburgh - Miles Briggs

One of the more peculiar phenomena of lockdown in Edinburgh was the emergence of graffiti encouraging residents to ‘doon yer tea’ and ‘eat yer bread’. Residents of various parts of the city will be familiar with these taglines.
Miles Briggs MSPMiles Briggs MSP
Miles Briggs MSP

And while I endorse this healthy eating message, it does raise a greater issue that has led to concern in the Capital.

I recently called for action to help tackle what I see as the growing problem of graffiti across communities in Edinburgh. The city is beginning to look tired and dated, and much of it is down to consistently more graffiti appearing in the city over the last few years. Indeed, incidents reported to the council rose from 433 in 2018 to 1,260 in 2021 – a significant rise and one which points to the growing problem this anti-social behaviour is having.

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When done tastefully and in designated areas in communities, street art can enhance an area and can demonstrate incredible creativity. However, too much of Edinburgh’s finest buildings and landmarks have been defaced, in some cases with racist, sectarian, and other pejorative terms. This isn’t art its anti-social behaviour.

Miles Briggs MSP highlights the problem of graffiti in the cityMiles Briggs MSP highlights the problem of graffiti in the city
Miles Briggs MSP highlights the problem of graffiti in the city

Not only is much of the graffiti in the city a complete eyesore but it is also incredibly costly for the council and many businesses which have been targeted, many of which are already struggling with increased costs.

It is important that we work to find better ways to clean up the existing graffiti, but we also need to look at how to discourage people from indulging in it in the first place. One way in which we might be able to deter people from spreading graffiti is to keep areas that are vulnerable to it well lit, as well as secure with security cameras. I have also written to Ministers to ask what plans Ministers have to review the age at which spray paint can be purchased.

My Lothian MSP colleague, Sue Webber, had originally spoken about the need to tackle graffiti in the city when she was a local councillor back in 2019 and spoke of the need to establish a graffiti taskforce to deal with the issue. Whilst a dedicated graffiti task force is in operation in the city, it has limited resources and clearly more support and coordination needs to be given to ensure they can tackle the problem effectively.

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I recently wrote to Council Leader, Cllr Cammy Day to ask for a graffiti summit and I am pleased that Edinburgh Council has agreed to my request host a roundtable in the new year to discuss the issues and what additional action can be taken to address the problem – both in terms of behaviour change for those who are doing the graffiti and also a new focus on cleaning up the graffiti.

I hope the meeting will be an opportunity to bring all interested parties together and having spoken to local councillors about the issue, who agree more needs to be done, I would welcome all interested parties to get in touch with my office to make sure they are at the roundtable at the City Chambers.

Edinburgh is well-renowned for its natural beauty, as well as its breathtaking architecture and historical landmarks. It is this that has earned the city the moniker ‘Athens of the North’ and what has led to our Old Town and New Town’ being awarded World Heritage Site status. It’s time we acted to tackle the graffiti problem and cleaned up our beautiful City.

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