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Stevenage Borough Council is cracking down on graffiti in the town with a range of new measures.

As part of the council’s work to address graffiti tagging, a new arts project has been launched which will take a creative approach to help address the issue.

Junction 7 Creatives will commission artists to create a series of ‘mini murals' on Openreach telecoms cabinets around Stevenage to brighten up the town and offer a more positive alternative to tagging. The project is being funded by Stevenage Borough Council.

Work has already begun on the first cabinets, with artist Caroline Nelson creating designs on the theme of connection. Caroline Nelson is a multi-talented artist who creates bold and beautiful designs in mixed media, and this will be her first public art commission.

 

Example-of-Caroline-Nelson’s-Artwork

The project is being called ‘Only Connect’, because the Openreach cabinets are filled with cables that help us all stay connected. It borrows the title of a famous sculpture by Angela Godfrey in St Nicholas, which itself draws on a line from ‘Howards End’ by E.M. Forster.

There is evidence from other areas, including other European cities, that show artwork by local artists on media cabinets acts as a deterrent against graffiti, as it is respected and not defaced.

Young people will also play a part in the project, with artists such as Caroline sharing and generating ideas with young artists who are part of the Junction 7 Creatives community.

The council is also working with Stevenage Police on other measures to tackle graffiti, including patrols by police and council officers in hotspot locations, along with the installation of mobile CCTV cameras. Council officers are also regularly clearing graffiti, and the council is working with local businesses to encourage them to clear graffiti from their premises.

The new measures follow a 15-year-old being detained after graffitiing with a permanent marker in St George’s Way multi-storey car park, in October 2023. The youth was dealt with by way of restorative justice and community resolution, through an educational course and unpaid work.

Councillor Loraine Rossati, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure and Information Technology, said:

“Graffiti is a blight on our town and we are cracking down on it. We’re also brightening up Stevenage with public art that deters graffiti. The cabinet artwork, working with Openreach and Junction 7 Creatives, is an exciting project that could grow and grow. The only limit is the number of cabinets we can paint!”

Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Nick Redfearn added:

“We have seen an increase in graffiti around the town with particular tags becoming very prominent. Graffiti ‘artists’ need to be aware that they are committing the offence of criminal damage and they can expect to be arrested and charged for these offences, which will result in a criminal record.

“We will always act on information that will lead to the identification of those responsible and urge anyone with any information regarding graffiti to contact us.”

John Prebble, from Junction 7 Creatives, said:

“Art brightens our town and our lives, and we’re excited to be creating some wonderful new artworks out and about in Stevenage.”

The Openreach mini murals project is currently in its early phase, but in the warmer months ahead more artworks will appear on Openreach cabinets around the town. If there is a particular cabinet you’d like considered for transformation, please email Junction 7 Creatives.

Chris Herbert, Director of Customer Service, Openreach said:

“We’re really happy to be part of such a worthwhile project in the town and we hope the artwork is enjoyed by everyone living and working in the area.

“It’s great to see our infrastructure having a dual purpose. As well as brightening up the daily lives of locals, our cabinets make faster broadband speeds available to nearby homes and businesses. Across the Stevenage area, 99.5% of people can now access superfast speeds. But we’re also upgrading the network in the town, with 40% of the local authority area now able to order an ultrafast, Full Fibre connection through the provider of their choice on our network. This will future-proof digital connectivity, making it more reliable and resilient for generations to come”.

To report graffiti to the council, visit our Graffiti web page