Taxpayers in South Tyneside are forking out more than £100,000 a year in clean-up bills to remove graffiti across the borough.
The staggering figure has been highlighted after vandals daubed unsightly tags on buildings around Hebburn at the weekend.
It is estimated that, each year, around 1,200 scrawlings are removed by the council’s handy estates teams before they are reported by the public on top of the 300 reported cases that come into the council’s call centre.
Of all cases, 20% are of an offensive nature.
A number of shops and businesses in Hebburn were affected in the recent spate of graffiti attacks. A bridge over Hebburn Metro station was also targeted.
Premises hit included No Lippy Health and Fitness and Mambo II, in Prince Consort Road, and Abacus Nursery, in Station Road, among others.
Graffiti is unsightly and gives a negative impression of an area. It is a shame that a minority of people choose to spoil our environment in this way.Coun Nancy Maxwell
One business owner said: “This has been going on for a while now.
“I’ve tried painting over it, but they just come along and do it again.
“It’s getting worse now. A number of places were attacked, but a lot had their shutters up so you couldn’t see it all.
“These are all small businesses they are targeting. The last time, it took me an afternoon of painting to cover it.
“In all it has to cost around £150 each time, including the time you’re wasting when you could be doing other things for your business. It’s not fair.
Coun Nancy Maxwell, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “We’d like to thank the Gazette for bringing this to our attention. Our Handy Estates team is visiting the area to assess the damage.
“Graffiti is unsightly and gives a negative impression of an area. It is a shame that a minority of people choose to spoil our environment in this way.
“Cleaning up graffiti places an additional and unnecessary burden on our already extremely stretched resources.
“We spend an estimated £100,000 a year removing graffiti from our neighbourhoods.
“I am sure taxpayers would agree that there are much more worthwhile causes to spend our limited funds on.”
Anyone who sees graffiti, or has information on those carrying it out, is asked to call the council on 427 7000.