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Fury over 'clean graffiti' branded heritage crime

Published date: 09 May 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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THE council is considering charging betting company StanJames for cleaning work after it used a pressure washer to blast its logo onto the flagstones on Chester Walls.

The StanJames logo can be seen blasted into the pavement on the Walls 21 times along Nun’s Road, by Chester Racecourse, and again on City Walls Road, outside the Queens School.

Furious residents contacted the council to complain about the “desecration” of an ancient monument and Cheshire West and Chester Council heritage team initally contacted Cheshire Police on Wednesday about what it felt was a heritage crime.

Police have since decided not to investigate which has left the council to consider charging the cleaning work to StanJames.

A specalist stonemason needs to be brought in to see whether there has been any damage to Chester’s greatest asset.

Council spokesman Rachel Ashley said: “Work to remove the graffiti from the paving will be carried out on Monday. We are considering whether to recover the costs from StanJames.”

Chester resident Dan Jeory, who runs Farolingo translations in the city, first complained to the council about the markings.

He said: “I first noticed it when I was walking around the Walls on my lunchbreak on Monday and I saw it by the Queen’s School and all along Nun’s Road.

“It is awful. It is the Roman Walls, for goodness sake – it’s not just a pavement. It is desecrating the Walls and our heritage.

“I assumed they must have had permission from the council to do it so I tweeted them asking ‘When did the Walls become a billboard?’ and the council said they didn’t give permission.

“I’m pleased with how seriously the council are taking it.

“The advertising looks tacky. They wouldn’t have done it at Stonehenge – so what is the difference here?”

StanJames has said the imprint is “clean graffiti” whereby a metal template is used to leave a logo when dirt is blasted away.

The company said it had done this for the past two years without any complaints but apologised if people felt the location was unsuitable for advertising.

A StanJames spokesman, Garry McGibbon, said: “The process of putting the branding on the pavement is known as ‘clean graffiti’. A metal stencil is placed on the ground and the pavement is ‘cleaned’ with a pressure wash, removing dirt from within the stencil. Once the stencil is removed, it leaves the image that you see on the pavement.

“There will be no lasting damage to the stone at all. In fact, the pavement is likely to be dirty again within a couple of weeks so the branding completely disappears.

“We can assure the people of Chester that no lasting damage has been done to any part of the city Walls, flagstones or otherwise, as a result of our sponsorship.

“We have done this clean graffiti to support our sponsorship of the prestigious Chester Cup, and we have indeed used clean graffiti in Chester for the past two years while supporting this horse race.

“As we’ve never had a negative response in the past, we’ve utilised clean graffiti again this year on the pavements near the racecourse.

“We apologise if certain quarters feel that better judgement could have been used in terms of location – but would again stress that there is no damage. There is no repair work necessary.”

StanJames did not comment when asked if it was inappropriate to place advertising on a scheduled monument.

An English Heritage spokesman said: “The Walls, Towers, Gates and Posterns of Chester are a Scheduled Monument. Any works to Scheduled Monuments, including cleaning, require Scheduled Monument Consent from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

“Chester’s Walls are made of red sandstone which is porous.

“Pressure washing could do irreversible damage to both the historic site, removing, for example, tool marks on the stone, and the micro-ecology which may thrive on the Wall faces.

“We wouldn’t advise pressure washing any monument without discussion with our technical specialists and with an application for appropriate consents but we are not completely against the possibility.

“We’d be happy to discuss an application and help find the best area that will make the smallest impact on the monument.

“We will be investigating any potential damage to the site.”

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