GRAFFITI will now be removed from private properties by the council - but businesses will have to pay for the service.

Under the plans, graffiti on house walls can be cleaned off for free.

But tags on company property - including utility cabinets - will cost £57 per square metre to remove.

In May resident Lynette Mills told The Press she had been trying for months to get graffiti removed near a towpath alongside the River Foss.

And Cllr Andy D’Agorne said he wanted a better policy on securing removal of graffiti from privately owned surfaces in public areas.

A new approach to tackling the problem - which will see £337,000 invested in tackling graffiti over the next four years - was agreed at a City of York Council meeting on Monday.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for the environment, heard that permission is needed from private landowners before tags can be removed from their property.

But - if the graffiti is offensive - the council can clean it away if it has served the owner with a notice and they have not removed it themselves.

Under the plans, extremely offensive graffiti would be removed within one working day of a consent form being received.

Graffiti that is not offensive should be removed within five working days.

Cllr Mark Warters, speaking at the meeting, said utility cabinets are a particular target and added: “Graffiti encourages more graffiti.”

He was told that the council will talk to phone companies about cleaning up the cabinets.

A report prepared for the meeting says: “Graffiti can only be removed by the council if it is accessible from ground level and on a surface on which graffiti wipes (impregnated with graffiti removal agents) or the council’s specialised pressure washing system are suitable.

“In some instances it will be necessary to paint over the graffiti.

“The graffiti team will work with ward councillors and the enforcement team, and police to develop their knowledge of the various areas and hot spots.

“The authority does not have a duty to remove graffiti from property it does not own, however it will work with property owners to offer advice and our graffiti removal services.

“The use of enforcement action may be considered by the council and will only be used in exceptional circumstances.”

The meeting heard the council is currently recruiting staff to the team.

Cllr Widdowson welcomed the news.

She added: “This is a great report thank you - these are really good first steps.”

Residents are encouraged to report graffiti on private land to the property owner before going to the council in order to speed up the process.

Graffiti can be reported at or by calling 01904 551550.