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City of York Council to team with Virgin Media 02 to tackle graffiti in the city


City of York Council has teamed up with one of the UK’s biggest broadband providers to tackle recent reports of criminal damage to their on-street fibre cabinets.

It follows a spike in reports that many of the green cabinets throughout the City have been defaced by graffiti in recent months, and the Council have decided to take action in what is a nationwide first for broadband provider Virgin Media 02.

After the company invested heavily over recent years within the City with their ‘Project Lightning’ broadband scheme to help improve connectivity to residents, this resulted in the installation of a number of green fibre cabinets across York.

According to the council, the plan is to repaint damaged cabinets and add stickers to them with instructions on how to report incidents so that action can be taken quicker to try keep the streets clear of graffiti and to deter people from damaging them.

Paul Edwards, Director of Field Engineering & Operations at Virgin Media 02 said: “With this innovative new trial with City of York Council, we hope to make it faster and easier to remove graffiti from our on-street cabinets.”

Cllr. Paula Widdowson, executive member for environment and climate change for City of York Council said: “Graffiti is criminal damage and a selfish act which spoils the local environment for residents and visitors alike. We hope this sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of vandalism. This is the first deal of it’s kind.”

She went on to say: “There have been around 800 reported incidents of damage to boxes in the last 6 months.”

This is not an isolated problem however, with many reports coming through to the company from across the country over the last year with alleged criminal damage to cabinets as shown in their community section, with reports from places such as Guildford and Salford, with the provider saying that if the plan with the Council in York does work, it could well be implemented across the country.

One person commented on the company’s website suggesting saying what is to stop people from re-damaging the cabinets and that it’s not the broadband providers fault that the repairs need to be carried out. He said: “Providers spend hundred’s of pounds getting the cabinets cleaned or re-painted only for the kids to go out a couple of days later and re-spray them. People will complain about their bill increase due to the continued spending by the company on the repairs. The problem isn’t with Virgin, its with the kids who have no respect for their town or property.”

Cllr. Widdowson confirmed that Virgin Media 02 are paying to repair the cabinets themselves, although there is a graffiti team employed by the council that costs “in excess of £100,000 per year.” 

The Council also confirmed that if all goes well with this scheme, City Fibre and the Environment Agency may include their cabinets and kit in the scheme and form similar agreements and BT may follow.

City of York Council has said that to report damage or vandalism to any of the cabinets people can report it on a dedicated page and anyone reporting an instance of damage should provide as much information as possible about the location of the cabinet so that it can be found and repaired quickly.