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Meet the team carrying out ‘backbreaking’ graffiti and gum removal

PUBLISHED: 09:35 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:35 04 February 2020

Some of the Graffiti Team in Ipswich carry out steet deep cleaning.
Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant

Some of the Graffiti Team in Ipswich carry out steet deep cleaning. Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant

Archant

The Ipswich council graffiti team has said “constant backbreaking” work remains in the town despite a drop in the number of tagging reports.

Mark James, Andrew Milward, James Squirrell and Andy Milward from the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich.
Picture: Lauren De Boise / ArchantMark James, Andrew Milward, James Squirrell and Andy Milward from the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant

The borough council's "Graffiti Squad" work up to 12 hours a day ridding the town of vandal's tags on homes and businesses around the town.

Their hard work using high pressure hoses to remove the eyesore from walls has paid off, with 71 reports received between January 2019 to January 2020, down 36% from the same period in 2015 to 2016 at 111.

To squad member Andy Milward, the issue still remains just as much of a priority despite the reduction.

Mr Milward said: "It is backbreaking, we're working all weathers. It is tiring but we take it in turns as a team of two.

Blast clearning work being carried out by the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich.
Picture: Lauren De Boise / ArchantBlast clearning work being carried out by the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant

"It is virtually the same thing, you see different graffiti but usually it's the same thing, nothing really changes.

"We're trying to change with technology to make the job easier but there's no easier way,"

But despite work in tackling the number of cases of graffiti, the team continue their battle against an old enemy they are struggling to beat - chewing gum.

The council decided to pass the job to the team instead of using external contractors - which they say has led to cost savings and a better, more responsive service.

Some the cleaning work carried out by the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich.
Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant Some the cleaning work carried out by the Graffiti Squad in Ipswich. Picture: Lauren De Boise / Archant

Mr Milward claimed the team deal with more than a million pieces a year, prompting regular operations outside pubs and nightclubs to remove them from the floor and on the outside of litter bins.

The issue also highlights environmental concern, with gum containing plastic. The council has launched a campaign to tackle the issue, with Digby the octopus calling on the public to bin their gum on signs throughout the town centre and Ipswich waterfront.

He also said they arrive to work on weekend mornings to find the town looking like a "bomb site" because of night-time litter, urine, vomit and excrement.

"The litter problem is mostly at the weekend but we have a constant litter flow. At weekends it's like a bomb hit it," Mr Milward said.

"They [the public] don't want to see what we see. You live in this town, respect the town, respect the people in the town and be proud of the town.

"A cleaner, nicer Ipswich with no gum, no litter etcetera will make our job a lot easier."


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