COMMENT: The war against graffiti in Sheffield needs to be won

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Much like litter, fly-tipping and those horrid chewing gum splodges all over the pavement, graffiti is one of those modern nuisances which blights every city centre, scrawled, semi-incomprehensible messages (at best) hastily slapped onto any given shopfront or wall.

In the vast majority of cases, this vandalism only serves to make everything look scruffier and uglier, reducing the aesthetic appeal of public spaces and often, hurting independent shops which people have worked hard to open and work harder to keep trading.

So it’s welcome news that a six-week ‘spring clean’ is set to rid Sheffield’s city centre businesses of this modern menace - head over to page 6 today for more.

Four teams are set to blitz 60 different sites, and business owners will be able to request services for free.

Once that’s done, the city centre will no doubt be transformed into a clean, brilliant haven of shiny walls and gleaming shopfronts.

For about a day, at best.

Because once the offending spray is gone, it won’t take long at all for these aerosol-toting bandits to tool up and target every single wall and shopfront all over again.

Because let’s face it, the police have probably got better things to do (and spend limited budgets on) than to patrol for vandalism in the dead of night.

So how do we win the war on graffiti, rather than the battle?

Some might say we shouldn’t be fighting it; that graffiti has artistic merit.

True, some well-known Sheffield graffiti artists have created some pretty striking pieces; several examples by the artist known as ‘Phlegm’, have livened up some dull areas.

And there’s the well-meaning, if slightly off, David Bowie mural.

One man’s ugly scrawl is another man’s masterpiece, but the vast majority aren’t exactly Banksy, and hastily scrawled ‘tags’ on walls just look scruffy.

Graffiti walls have been trialled in some cities, lending free reign to taggers to go nuts. But such is the rebellious nature of the act, often taggers spray right next to them instead, for kicks.

Sheffield’s Business Improvement District deserves some praise: shop owners forking out for their BID levy are now going to see that money directly being spent on something that will help them out.

All we can do is take as much pride as possible in our city: pull together to keep it clean, report graffiti, and each do our little bit to fight against vandalism every day.