Eye-catching issue

Some of the graffiti defacing an art mural at The Mill, Castlemaine, as photographed recently by local graffiti commentator, retired school teacher, Bill Wiglesworth, who is keen to see the issue cleaned up.

Eve Lamb

A Castlemaine resident has used public question time at last week’s Mount Alexander Shire Council meeting to raise concerns about the ongoing prevalence of graffiti in the town and wider shire.

Retired school teacher, Bill Wiglesworth, has little time for uninvited graffiti in public places and has long been pressing to see it cleaned up wherever it occurs in unsanctioned places in and about Castlemaine.

“Castlemaine has gained the dubious honour of being Victoria’s worst example for graffiti vandalism outside Melbourne,” he said.

“An analysis of the data by the Herald Sun (newspaper) found Melbourne, Mount Alexander in Victoria’s northwest and Yarra in the inner city were the three worst areas for graffiti, recording the most offences per capita,” Mr Wiglesworth said.

“It comes as the Saturday Herald Sun revealed the average number of requests to clean graffiti doubled in Melbourne’s CBD from 2020 to 2021,” he said.

Mr Wiglesworth asked the council what it was doing to address the attention-grabbing matter, which he said was having a negative impact on the amenity and public profile of Castlemaine and surrounds.

“Having attained the distinction – or disgrace – of being Victoria’s worst example for graffiti vandalism outside Melbourne, surely we we would want to cast off this embarrassing reputation,” he said.

“I don’t know how council feels about graffiti because I have received no feedback to previous submissions I have made on this issue.

“I believe that council does not like the appearance of graffiti any more than any of the ratepayers do. I look forward to hearing what council decides to do to eliminate the scourge of graffiti in Castlemaine.”

The council’s director of infrastructure and development, Michael Annear, responded to Mr Wiglesworth’s question at last week’s meeting.

Mr Annear said the council was currently in discussion with police and community groups “exploring actions” to address the issue.

But outside the meeting Mr Wiglesworth told the Express he was not impressed with the response.

“Tuesday’s response had no substance to it,” he said.

“It was a feel good, ‘we’re working on it’, ‘it’s under control’ kind of statement.

“It’s the sort thing I’ve heard for a couple of years. Granted, COVID has complicated matters, but there still has been no consultation that I know of with any members of the graffiti group, which last met 15 months ago.”