A ROW has broken out over a new teen shelter which has been daubed with the wrong type of graffiti.
Paddock Wood Sports Association, which funded the Putlands field youth hub, is angry that special graffiti panels on the shelter have been covered with tags – including expletives and racist phrases – despite promises they would be used for murals.
Association chairman Ken Munday told the Courier this week: "The shelters are sold with graffiti panels. We agreed with the council youngsters could paint murals on them, but it's now been graffitied all over.
"We don't want graffiti on there as it will mean people can legitimately carry aerosols around the town."
The £7,200 shelter opened at the start of summer. It is contained in the Moletrap skate park and provides somewhere for youngsters to meet.
The town council owns the land and confirmed it had received complaints from residents over the unsightly state of the metal structure, but has refused to remove the graffiti.
A council spokesman said: "Members agreed they shared the concerns of the Sports Association, however if removed there was no guarantee the graffiti would not return. It was agreed that no action would be taken at this time."
The Courier visited the Moletrap on Tuesday and found the shelter covered with graffiti tags, just weeks after a project which saw Mascalls' pupils paint on artwork. Words scrawled using marker pens over the top of the pupils' work included racist and offensive language.
Mr Munday expressed concern over the council's unwillingness to act and said the association was considering asking for the panels to be removed. He also raised fears having a designated graffiti area would make the police's job more difficult, as anyone caught in the town with a spray can or markers pen would have an excuse.
Mr Munday said: "The association is 100 per cent against this. We're not happy with this at all.
"The council has not done what it agreed to originally. It is not good enough."
He added: "Paddock Wood has a lot of good young people, it is just a minority who spoil it for the rest."
Mascalls head teacher Stuart Reeves said he was convinced the artwork had not been wrecked by his own pupils and suspected so-called "graffiti purists" were responsible, who may have seen the children's stencilled work as inferior.
He said: "After we finished painting it, the shelter was trashed overnight. Our pupils were absolutely gutted.
"We have zero graffiti in the school and I can't see our children would deface other pupils' work."