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Ratepayers to pay for cycle event clean-up

Olivia's graffiti pic

Christchurch ratepayers will foot the bill for cleaning up graffiti from January’s elite road cycling champs.

Graffiti spans the width of Dyers Pass Rd and includes messages of support to athletes such as “Go Jo”, “Bennett”, and “Go Jack”.

Cashmere Residents Association chairman Rik Tindall said the graffiti was “an eye-sore for residents” and wants organisers of the Calder Stewart Elite Road National Championships to clean it up.

But the Christchurch City Council has confirmed ratepayers will now shoulder the cost.

A council spokeswoman said event organisers were responsible for cleaning the road, and had been told to leave the area in its original condition, but that the council had since agreed to remove the spray paint using its graffiti hotline service, which is run by Transpacific Industrial Solutions and funded by Christchurch ratepayers.

Nick Radburnd, a spokesman for the council’s graffiti hotline, was unable to give figures for the clean-up as the council was waiting on a final quote from its contractor, but said the  event had “a reoccurring graffiti problem”.

Calder Stewart Elite Road National Championships director Simon Hollander said race organisers had warned supporters against marking the roads and had posted messages on their Facebook and Twitter accounts reminding event goers that permanent graffiti would not be tolerated.

The council was better placed to clean up the road-marking, he said.

“They have experts to clean graffiti damage.”

Tindall said race organisers were “passing the buck’’.

Graffiti was also a problem last year, when spray paint was left on Cashmere roads for weeks and no-one wanted to take responsibility for the damage, he said.

“It’s an ongoing problem with the organisers and we are questioning whether the event should proceed in the future.”

Cashmere resident Nicola Tse said graffiti was not the only issue — parking during the weekend event was also a problem.

Tindall wants the council to set a bond with event organisers to ensure future clean-ups are covered in the event costs and not shifted to ratepayers.

Graffiti vandalism costs ratepayers in excess of $1 million annually. Graffiti projects coordinator for the council Valerie Merryweather said that the cost of graffiti removal is $150 plus $8 per metre.

_Olivia Bascand for the Southern View