RESIDENTS are being forced to put up with graffiti in their area, because a cleaning contractor says it is not deemed offensive enough.

The Comet: Examples of graffiti on road furniture in Purwell LaneExamples of graffiti on road furniture in Purwell Lane (Image: Archant)

Problems with graffiti in the Purwell area of Hitchin were reported three months ago.

Although North Herts District Council has responded to areas it is responsible for, the county council’s contractor Ringway has still not cleared any of the mess from road signs.

And it’s emerged the contractor hasn’t done so, because the graffiti is not racist or deemed offensive.

Chris Parker, who originally reported the graffiti in November and has chased it up several times since, told the Comet: “This means the area can continue to deteriorate with further graffiti. It appears to be spreading and nothing is being done.

“NHDC have, in fact, acted more or less immediately, but the county council doesn’t really seem interested.

“I agree racist and offensive graffiti should be removed as soon as possible, but other graffiti is just as offensive, particularly when it’s on people’s fences or on county council road signs. It could also end up being a safety hazard, where people are looking at the graffiti instead of the signs.”

Ringway defended the criticism, claiming the graffiti did not impose a safety hazard and therefore did not need to be immediately removed.

Matthew Kelley, divisional manager, said: “We have inspected the areas in Hitchin where graffiti has been reported to us. Although it is an eyesore, it is not offensive or a safety hazard so did not warrant immediate removal.

“It will, however, form part of our sign cleaning programme which begins this month now we are entering spring.”