Plans to ‘purge’ graffiti from the town have been unveiled, with the council offering to double the amount of graffiti it will remove from private properties for free.

A proposed change in policy would mean the council would remove graffiti up to 2m2 from non-council owned buildings for free rather than the 1m2 limit.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) says the policy change would allow for up to 500 extra pieces of graffiti to be removed on top of 37 sites where removal is currently planned.

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The council also plans to provide up to 20 community removal kits to help empower local community groups to take their own action to rid their neighbourhoods of low-level graffiti.

On the other hand, a Street Art Advisory Panel will be set up to ensure prized pieces of graffiti that could be of community or financial value are not removed, following on from the appearance of Banksy artwork on the Reading Gaol site in March.

Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, lead member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “Reading’s Banksy became a cultural landmark literally overnight, but most graffiti is not so welcome.

“This new initiative will allow us to respond to more of residents’ reports of unsightly tags, scribbles and other graffiti that does not enhance our town.

“Our previous policy was effective at removing single tags and cleaning smaller pieces but did not allow us to offer free removal for private properties that had become graffiti hotspots.

“By increasing the threshold at which the council will clean reported graffiti for free from private properties, we plan to remove 500 more pieces of graffiti across the town. We will also be empowering and equipping community groups to tackle graffiti in their area and will be able to tackle some larger pieces.

“As Reading continues to grow, the council is committed to ensuring our residential areas are as attractive as they can be to live in. The enhanced graffiti clean-up service will help to achieve that.”

RBC says it has noted the strong community desire to retain valued street art.

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The clean-up is being funded through £75,000 from the Community Infrastructure

Residents can report incidences of graffiti on the Love Clean Streets app. The app allows residents to provide images and location details, which will be sent to RBC to take action.

Graffiti can also be reported by calling the council on 01189 373787