A WOMAN battling to get graffiti removed from near her home in York has been told the council won’t sort it because it’s on private property.

Lynette Mills has also been told that she and others in the same position could even - theoretically - be fined if they didn’t remove such graffiti themselves when asked.

The Press reported recently how York had seen an upsurge in graffiti sprayed on walls and posts including ones at Barbican, a hotel, club and cemetery.

Statistics showed a rise in the number of cases of offensive graffiti reported to City of York Council, and local resident Lynette Mills complained about the graffiti problem near her home in the Foss Basin.

Jane Mowat, head of community safety at City of York Council, then urged people to report graffiti so the authority could remove it promptly.

Mrs Mills subsequently emailed her to say she was astounded by such comments, as she had been trying for a long time to get the council to clean the Foss Basin walls with no success.

Ms Mowat replied saying that some years ago, there was a "very proactive response" to all graffiti on both private and council property under a ‘Community Payback’ scheme.

Under this, offenders supervised by probation staff undertook community activities with the equipment to remove graffiti on private property, while the council’s cleansing team removed it from the authority’s own premises.

“We would ask the property owner to sign a disclaimer/waiver to allow Community Payback to remove the graffiti,” she said.

“This arrangement worked well. When probation was reorganised, Community Payback was privatised and they informed us that they were no longer able to provide this service.

“The council cleansing team state that they do not have the remit or resource to remove graffiti from private premises.

“The location that you describe, whilst on a public pathway, the building on which the graffiti is painted is not council property.

“As an enforcement team, we speak with the owners of buildings where graffiti is reported and encourage them to clean it off.

“We can issue them with a penalty notice but it is a difficult issue as the owner of the building which has been subject to graffiti is essentially a victim of criminal damage, therefore it is disproportionate to fine a victim of crime.”

She added that she was to meet the council’s new executive member for housing and community safety, Denise Craghill, and would raise the resident’s concerns in the hope some progress could be made in developing a mechanism to allow the council to tackle graffiti on private property.

Cllr Craghill said this was an issue that had frustrated ward councillors and residents for a long time now.

“It may not happen overnight but I certainly intend to try and sort out a better system for the council either directly, or working with partners, to be able to remove graffiti from private property - especially when that private property is facing onto public areas,” she said.

“ Of course, I’d also like to look at creative ways of reducing the amount of graffiti in the first place.”