The 'Not Our Responsibility' Cycle

Acton Lane bridge remains blighted by graffiti as authorities pass the buck

Tim O'Toole wrote in ‘The Londoner’ recently on the subject of London Underground cleaning up its act and anticipated the initial signs of progress to be cleanliness - cleaner tracks, platforms and stations. He stated “Clearing away the rubbish and removing graffiti will give a clear signal to passengers that we have got control of our property and that the infracos are truly adding value”.

Such signs of progress would cheer the local residents who long for London Underground’s property in Chiswick, in particular the bridge that spans the railway line under Acton Lane before entering Chiswick Park Tube station, to get its much needed share of the planned sprucing. Ealing Council has acknowledged that this bridge carries racist graffiti and is desperately in need of cleaning however, who is actually responsible for carrying out such work is currently being shifted from one authority to another.

Locals residents and tube users who are duly offended by the sight and content of this graffiti have, for some time now, tried to persuade London Underground to remove it.

This simple request marked the beginning of the ‘not our responsibility cycle’

• London Underground claim that Hounslow Council is responsible

• Hounslow claim that Ealing Council is responsible (the borough boundary runs through the bridge, along the railway tracks)

• Ealing Council claim that London Underground is responsible

Each month, dedicated campaigners go around the frustrating loop yet again and all the while the graffiti gets worse and worse. London Underground do admit that they own the bridge, but claim they are not responsible for the "highway" side of it however, LU’s Metronet state they have visited the site and concluded that as the graffiti "wasn't offensive" they weren't going to remove it because it "would cost too much".

As a direct result of local councilor’s involvement, other railway bridges have been cleaned this year. Ealing Council, who claim in their published policy for tackling graffiti that they will remove racist or offensive graffiti from personal property within 24 hours, previously agreed to clean the bridge but then changed their minds. Hounslow Council are purportedly trying to convince Ealing to share the responsibility, but Ealing insist that London Underground should clean their own bridge, otherwise it would "set a precedent". And so the cycle begins yet again.

Inevitably, this is not only this bridge that’s proving problematic, there is a London Underground owned footbridge and subway nearby, connecting Hardwicke Road with Bridge Street, off Belmont Road W4, which is also covered in graffiti and in dire need of cleaning.

Both Hounslow and Ealing Councils have resolute anti-graffiti policies and are, to the most extent, pro-active in tackling this anti-social problem.

However residents believe that the next vital step in the crusade to rid Chiswick of this unsightly ‘artwork’ must be for all parties, including the transport authorities, to face up to their responsibilities.

August 29, 2003

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