Hillyfields Park in Gillingham holds graffiti workshops after being targeted by vandals
A park that has been spray painted is tackling the problem by hosting its own graffiti workshops.
Hillyfields Community Park in Gillingham has become the subject of ‘mindless vandals’ who scrawled across the green flag site, causing damage costing £1,500 a year to clean up.
Cll Cooper talks about graffiti issues in the area
Graffiti is daubed on signs, benches and litter bins, and a local councilor says as soon as it’s cleaned up it reappears.
Cllr Pat Cooper, who started the group Friends of Hillyfields Park, said: “I’ve had enough. It’s not graffiti, it’s just mindless vandalism. It’s not artwork.
“There are a lot of names on the tags so people can tell who it is. To me it looks like there is a group of people who seem to think they own the park and that looks rather threatening. .
“A photo of one of the paintings with the latest graffiti on it was shared online with the caption ‘Best yet’, it’s like they’re laughing at us.”
Some of the targeted signs were only installed earlier this year. An information board near the Rosebery Road entrance has been cleaned so many times that the glass has become cloudy and you can’t read what’s underneath. The glass panel will cost £300 to replace.
Cllr Cooper added: “These signs cost money. We can’t keep replacing these things so I’m really asking those people doing this graffiti to stop doing it. It’s disgraceful and it’s anti-social behavior.”
The park has held Green Flag status – the mark of a quality green space – for several years, but Cllr Cooper has warned it is in danger of losing it.
“We had our first green flag about seven years ago and we’re very proud of our green flag status,” she said. “But the problem is if the judges show up and see all this graffiti, we could lose our green flag status.”
The park organizes a graffiti event on July 25, 26 and 27 where young people are invited to participate in workshops to create “real” graffiti. There will be large panels for attendees to decorate with their artwork.
Cllr Pat Cooper said: “We want to show the good side of graffiti against the bad that is happening at the park. This is a real graffiti event where young people can come and do some appropriate graffiti on signs that will eventually be exposed in the main street.
“We wanted to create something cool in the park, instead of this horrible graffiti.”
Visit the Friends of Hillyfields Gillingham Facebook site for graffiti event updates. The workshops will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.