RESIDENTS in Hitchin have reached the end of their tether, after fruitlessly campaigning to get the graffiti cleaned from a nearby underpass for more than a year.

The Willows Estate underpass, which links to Tilehouse Street and Hitchin town centre, is covered in graffiti and litter.

Residents have been pleading with Herts Highways and North Herts District Council (NHDC) for more than a year to get the problem sorted, but say that they can’t find out who is responsible for its maintenance.

Russ Edwards, of Hawthorn Close, Hitchin, has led the campaign but says he has been ignored in his attempts.

He told The Comet: “I would like to say that my drive and persistence has proved successful, however it has not. I have been moved from pillar to post with at least five promised clean-ups but nothing has yet happened.

“The only people I have been able to contact are nameless receptionists that always tell me the matter is in hand. Hitchin, as other towns, has a huge problem with graffiti and rubbish in general, which is very bad for the countryside.

“There are a lot of old people that have to use this underpass every day and they are pretty disgusted at its current state.

“It is our lifeline to the town, but we are reluctant to use it because it’s intimidating.”

After The Comet contacted both NHDC and Hertfordshire Highways, it emerged that the latter was responsible for sorting out the problem.

A spokesman said: “We appreciate people’s patience in waiting for this to be cleared. Hertfordshire Highways has a limited budget for cleaning graffiti on subways and we’ve had to wait for funding to become available this financial year.

“The subway is now scheduled to be cleaned and provided with an anti-graffiti protective coating. The works will be completed within a few weeks.”