Graffit clean-up bill hits $2.5m

Kate Emery
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Graffit clean-up bill hits $2.5m

he old hotel on King Street Fremantle, Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The cost of cleaning graffiti off Perth's streets has topped $2.5 million, with $520,095 spent in the City of Perth alone.

The figures for 2013-14 show the next highest totals were for Gosnells ($366,773), Rockingham ($248,018) and Swan ($243,003).

The 17 city councils _The West Australian _ surveyed had to remove 21,885 pieces of graffiti from streets and buildings in the year.

The number of incidents was down from 2012-13 when the same 17 councils cleaned up 24,503 pieces of graffiti but the cost rose from $2.4 million.

Perth had the biggest graffiti bill and the most graffiti incidents at 3231, down from 3481.

However, a city spokesman said software problems meant the number of graffiti incidents was likely to be understated.

Some councils had less graffiti vandalism but the cost of cleaning it up rose. Gosnells' graffiti bill rose from $213,945 to $366,773, attributed in part to higher wages for cleaners and contractors and the cost of materials.

Others had the opposite experience. In Swan, incidents rose from 1822 to 2110 but the cost of cleaning them up fell from $305,974 to $243,003.

Swan chief executive Mike Foley said the cost of graffiti removal was affected by many factors, including size and location, the surface on which it was painted and the chemical or paint needed for removal.

"The City of Swan has been very proactive in seeking to reduce incidents of graffiti vandalism in the region," he said.

Mosman Park had the fewest incidents of graffiti and the smallest bill with just 33 recorded during the year and a clean-up cost of $5391.

However, some councils where graffiti was not a serious problem said they did not keep clean-up statistics.

Across the metropolitan area, councils have adopted different methods for tackling graffiti, from working with the police to embracing street art.

In Swan, the council found success with a Federal Government-funded program called Graffix, which offers artistic workshops.

"This program engages young people in legal urban art projects, creating pride in their local area," Mr Foley said.

"Through the course of seven community murals we have been able to eliminate and reduce illegal graffiti at these sites and publicly celebrate the skills of young upcoming artists."

Fremantle has taken a different approach under a 2012 policy that retains illegal graffiti deemed to have artistic merit.