GRAFFITI could soon be blighting Bognor Regis again, its residents have been warned.
A partnership deal which enabled the anti-social paintwork to be quickly removed has been scrapped.
West Sussex County Council pulled out of the deal with Bognor Regis Town Council to mean it will only pay to tackle the scourge of the spray painters on highways property in the town and its surrounding parishes.
Town council policy and resources committee chairman Cllr Adam Cunard said at Monday’s meeting the county council’s action was outrageous.
“We are halfway through the municipal year and the county council have just told us they will not be paying us for the agreement.
“The graffiti is going to build up quite quickly. We want to be able to remove it but we will not be paid for it.
“If we start to remove it, without being paid, the county council will not pay us again and we can’t afford for that to happen,” he said.
Sarah Norman, the council’s assistant clerk, said the ripping up of the agreement had already stopped an incidence of graffiti on a container at Bersted Brooks local nature reserve from being removed.
“Town Force would have gone out to remove that and we would recoup the cost from the county council. We are now unable to do that because it’s the town council’s time and money being used and we will not be able to recoup it from the county council,” she said.
Cllr Cunard’s anger at the meeting was backed by other members of the committee.
They agreed to write letters of protest to the county council and letters to other councils telling them what had happened.
Committee member Cllr Jan Cosgrove said: “This is really bad news. I am appalled by it.
“We should invite the cabinet member of the county council responsible for this decision to our next full council meeting. We should be pressing for that first and foremost.
“We should also bear in mind looking for some compensation for the work we have done for them to date.”
A county council spokesman said: “We will still pay the town council to remove graffiti from our highways property and assets.
“This will be on a when-needed basis rather than providing a lump sum contribution up front in the way we had been doing.
“With pressure on the county council’s budgets, we have to ensure value for money and this means challenging all existing arrangements to make sure contributions fairly reflect the service we need.”
The county council’s share of the partnership was £6,000 a year – and the town council has spent more than £1,000 this financial year in wiping out unsightly graffiti or painting over it.
The work has been one of the prime functions of the Town Force team set up by the town council in 2000 to make Bognor Regis more attractive and welcoming for visitors and residents. Racist and obscene graffiti is usually removed within a day. Most other incidents are wiped out within five working days.