One man’s mission to tackle unsightly graffiti in Docklands
By Brendan Rees
Fed up with graffiti vandals marring the Docklands precinct, a community-spirited resident has embarked on a mission to clean up the mess.
Long-time local business owner Andrew Ward, who operates PUSH! Fitness on Collins St, said graffiti vandals had defaced dozens of buildings, street posts, and walls which he said made the area look unsightly and unsafe.
In particular, he had become increasingly frustrated by the corner of Collins St and Harbour Esplanade which he said had been “seriously vandalised and covered with graffiti”.
After initially holding back to see whether the City of Melbourne had “some mechanism in place” to act, Mr Ward, owner of Push Fitness and a resident of 10 years, decided to take matters into his own hands.
So, armed with a paint roller and a tin of black paint, he gave up his free time to perform his very own clean-up operation in late September.
“I gave them [the council] 10 days, I didn’t hear anything back, so I went and got some paint and a roller and I rolled one whole wall,” he told Docklands News after writing a letter to Lord Mayor Sally Capp.
The walls he painted currently fence off the site adjoining trucking magnate Lindsay Fox’s classic car collection at the historic Queen’s Warehouse.
“After I did that, I had quite a few people from the community reaching out saying ‘That’s fantastic; I’ll join in next time,’ and ‘Can I help out?’” he said, before he returned a few days later to finish cleaning up the Collins St site.
“I take pride in the areas and the communities that I work in,” Mr Ward said.
“Just because the City of Melbourne has lower standards, I’m not going to let them bring down my business or my amenity.”
According to the City of Melbourne, it was “aware of ongoing graffiti issues at the Collins St site and are currently reviewing available options for this area to prevent graffiti and expedite its removal”.
“City of Melbourne officers are in contact with the relevant construction company to request the graffiti be removed, and to manage the occurrence of any additional graffiti,” the council said.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council took a “strong stance against tagging and illegal graffiti” and had invested more than $1.1 million into graffiti removal this year.
This included an additional $300,000 to remove graffiti at heights and “more frequent proactive patrols in hotspot areas”.
“Getting the basics right is critical to ensure our city is clean, safe and welcoming for residents, workers and visitors,” Cr Capp said.
“We remove more than 70,000 square metres of graffiti from surfaces each year, which is the equivalent of about three MCGs.”
Meanwhile, Mr Ward, who unsuccessfully ran for council last year, said he didn’t want any compensation after buying paint and a roller. Instead, he said, “I want them [the council] to care for the city because as a resident and ratepayer that’s important to me”.
“It’s upsetting and it’s disgraceful … if you’re trying to get people back, you’ve got to bring them back in a safe and clean environment, not to the Bronx.” •