Rumpus over graffiti removal payment

CABLE giant ntl is today involved in a spat with officials in Ipswich after it took more two years to persuade the company to spend £800 on getting rid of graffiti.

CABLE giant ntl is today involved in a major spat with officials in Ipswich after it took more two years to persuade the company to spend £800 on getting rid of graffiti.

The council was forced to take enforcement action against the company, which has spent £13 billion cabling-up Britain, after it refused to help clean its roadside boxes around the town.

Streetcare manager at Ipswich Borough Council, Rodney Cook, has been chasing ntl since October 2004 and has only now reached agreement with the company to provide paint.

He said: “It has been very frustrating indeed. I wrote letters to managers, even to the company's then chief executive.

“I seemed to be getting somewhere, was asked to tell them what needed to be done, and then everything went quiet again.

“This went on and on until we eventually served enforcement notices on the company. We served 83 notices covering 98 boxes. The difference in numbers was because some roads have more than one affected box.”

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Once a notice had been served the company had 21 days to object - which the company did not do - and then had 28 days to clean the boxes.

“Only 13 of the 98 boxes were actually cleaned - so 85 are still in a bad state. I do have a meeting with ntl on January 30 and there is an agreement for them to provide us with paint to do the work, but it has been very frustrating,” Mr Cook said.

The cost of the paint is between £800 and £1,000. “At one point I told ntl that I was going to the DIY store and buying the nearest match I could get - and would then send them the bill. If necessary we would have gone to the small claims court.”

A spokeswoman for ntl said the company was disappointed that the council had pressed on with enforcement action - ntl had worked well with other local authorities to reach agreement.

“The law changed in April last year to set up partnerships between companies like us and local authorities and since then we have set up agreements to clear boxes of graffiti,” she said.

“Until then there was no structure in place for us to work with local authorities - and it was not possible for us to clean all our boxes unless they had offensive graffiti on them.

“We are very sorry that Ipswich council has felt it necessary to press ahead with the enforcement action after we have reached agreement with them - no other council has done so.”

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