Yes, of course the Al’Burrito restaurant in Albert Road was trying to pull a bit of a fast one with the jet-washed stencilling of its logo on the pavements.
But that doesn’t mean it is automatically in the wrong with its guerilla branding and, indeed, it throws up questions about the cleanliness of our streets.
The city council has decided to class it as ‘unauthorised marks’ and has even come up with the term ‘reverse grafitti’ to describe the process of removing the muck to leave a pattern behind.
And herein lies the problem. Because what this story shows – and this is not something that will come as a shock to anyone who has walked around our city – is just how dirty the pavements are.
Not only that, but the measures taken to eradicate the ‘reverse graffiti’ have, if anything, made the street look even worse. Now there are clean paving stones next to dirty ones, just throwing the level of dirt into relief.
Now of course, if this ‘graffiti’ were to catch on it could lead to a tangle of different logos and tags all the way down shopping streets. But we can’t help but think that if the pavements are dirty enough to be able to reverse graffiti, then perhaps they are dirty enough to warrant being cleaned – after all, that should come under the remit of a street-cleaning team. And if what Al’Burrito’s co-owner says is true, that the cleaning team sent out to jet-wash the logos ignored far more unsightly mess such as vomit on nearby walls, then we can’t help but think that the priorities are skewed.
We’d support any street-wide initiative –wherever it was – that saw traders, residents and anyone else blitz an area and smarten it up. We’d also hope nowhere is allowed to get that dirty. And that councils carry out the duties they should.
But by sending out cleaning teams with the express intention to wipe out a couple of small, inoffensive, logos rather than improve the street, we feel the council has made a bad call. If it doesn’t want this to become a pattern, perhaps it should look at a jet-washing programme. After all, we’d all like cleaner pavements.
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