Byron skater Dan Drake in the vandalised toilet block.
Byron skater Dan Drake in the vandalised toilet block. ROSS IRBY

Tagging menace resurfaces in Byron Bay

IT'S ugly, gross, grubby and untalented, but a surge in tags sprayed on buildings, street signs and public toilets around Byron Bay has been noticed.

The visual pollution is not the clean fresh image that residents and businesses want for their beautiful beach town.

“It just isn't Byron,” says anti-tag campaigner and Byron United vice president Sevegne Newton.

“We shouldn't have to live with it,” she said.

No one The Northern Star spoke to at the weekend said the tags had merit or beauty, with travellers saying they looked awful and labelling them 'crap'.

Even young locals are embarrassed by their lack of artistry.

“No one wants to see this sort of s--t,” said Byron skater Dan Drake.

“It's horrible stuff.”

Dan, 24, was making his comments about the graffiti-covered a public toilet block at the Main Beach car park used by tens of thousands of beach goers every year.

He said the tags were not cool but public 'street art' should be encouraged and not painted over by Byron Shire Council or hit by taggers.

Dan said it was pieces of vibrant street art that reflected what Byron was about, not the tags.

Known for her strong anti-graffiti feelings and outspokenness about tagging, Ms Newton said the town had again seen a resurgence of tagging, including the toilets, bus shelter, and community centre.

She said it was believed the true cost to council to remove the mess, including from road signs, had blown to around $250,000.

Ms Newton said the tagged beachside toilet block was a horrible sight to confront visitors and would make people fearful of using it, particularly in the evening.

“That's how we welcome our visitors. If the town is looking grubby and awful it attracts more graffiti,” she said.

“The council needs to set a proper policy on the removal of tagging and graffiti, and there needs to be a maintenance schedule.”

The Beautiful Byron campaign was continuing with members like herself actively removing tags and graffiti.

Ms Newton welcomed street art. She said there was a respect for street artists and their colourful work, and the aerosol art done to cover the tags on signal boxes had not been vandalised by taggers.

She said such art should be encouraged and the works already done had received favourable comment.

Ms Newton said the council fees charged for footpath dining were meant to be used on beautification works.

At the time of writing Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham was unable to be contacted for comment.

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