Portsmouth City Council is in a 'ludicrous' war with Network Rail over removing lewd graffiti from Fratton bridge

FRUSTRATED city leaders are embroiled in a ‘ludicrous’ row with bosses from a train firm over lewd graffiti sprayed onto a railway station bridge.

By Tom Cotterill
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 5:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 10:02 pm

A Portsmouth City Council task force attempting to rid the streets of the graffiti has clashed with Network Rail over the eyesore tags caked on the bridge in Fratton Road, near Fratton railway station.

City council boss Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the team has been met with resistance from the railway firm when attempting to clean up the bridge.

Read More

Read More
Portsmouth MPs 'banned from Russia' by Moscow mock the Kremlin by hailing the sa...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Graffiti on Fratton Road bridge in Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (190422-1631)

Network Rail, which owns the bridge, has insisted it is ‘happy’ to work with partners to remove vandalism as quickly as possible.

However, Lib Dem chief Councillor Vernon-Jackson disagreed and instead claimed the railway company was actively blocking teams from carrying out the work.

Now the veteran councillor is planning on penning a furious letter to Network Rail bosses to express his dismay – and urge them to get on board with the council’s plans.

Speaking to The News about the situation, a baffled Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We've got absolutely no idea why Network Rail is acting like this.

Network Rail has insisted it is willing to work with partners to help clean its sites and remove lewd vandalism from them Picture: Sarah Standing (190422-1618)

'It is ludicrous. If they were cleaning it off, great. But they're not. They’re just leaving it be.

'We have got a professional team who are helping to clear up the graffiti in Portsmouth – why can't we use them?'

As previously reported, the city council launched a fresh crackdown on graffiti and fly-tipping as part of a new team designed to clean up the island’s image.

The £45,000 campaign has seen secret new mobile cameras being rolled out at trouble spots across Portsmouth in a bid to catch offenders red-handed.

Eyesore: Graffiti pictured on the Fratton Road bridge Picture: Sarah Standing (190422-1654)

The five cameras have been allocated for the city’s CCTV network and included in the island’s 2022/23 budget

The devices can be moved from site to site to help bring vandals to justice and will focus on 20 key areas in Portsmouth.

And as part of the new campaign, additional resources have been pumped in to help clean up graffiti, prevent nuisance behaviour and issue penalties to rule-breakers.

Graffiti on Fratton Road bridge in Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (190422-1649)

Cllr Dave Ashmore, who heads up environment and community safety in Portsmouth, said: ‘Graffiti is not a victimless crime and in addition to being a detriment to the area for the public, there is also a cost for property owners who have to remove the graffiti on buildings they own.’

Network Rail has insisted it is committed to cleaning up graffiti at sites across the region.

As part of a £2m effort to freshen up its railway lines ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the operator has already cleaned up hundreds of vandalised areas in London and the south east.

Speaking of Portsmouth, a Network Rail spokesman said: ‘We’re committed to tackling unsightly and offensive graffiti, which we know is an eyesore for our passengers and people who live by the railway.

‘In the southern region, we’ve invested £2m over the past year to help us repaint more than 450 sites, including 153 sites on our Wessex route.

‘We’re always happy to join forces with partner organisations where possible if it means we can remove more graffiti quicker.’

Graffiti on Fratton Road bridge in Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (190422-1621)
Portsmouth City Council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson Picture: Habibur Rahman