Bottle Alley, a historic walkway in Hastings, has been cleared of graffiti and restored to its former glory
hanks to a joint effort and funding from Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, Hastings Borough Council and the local Community Safety Partnership.
PCC Bourne was successful in securing £1.5 million from the Government’s Safer Streets 4 Fund that awarded £50 million to communities across England & Wales. In Sussex, the funding has been distributed across the county, focusing on projects which put a stop to anti-social behaviour and tackle violence against women & girls.
PCC Bourne joined Hastings MP Sally-Ann Hart, Councillor Judy Rogers and Inspector Lauren Buck to see how the funding was making a unique area of the town more inviting for residents and visitors.
Bottle Alley is a listed feature in the town – it gets its name from thousands of pieces of multi-coloured glass bottles that have been used to decorate the wall. It runs for 480 metres and was built in the 1930’s as an undercover walkway to protect against bad weather.
The alley provides a useful and colourful link between Hastings and St Leonards but, unfortunately, it had become a hot-spot for graffiti taggers and those committing anti-social behaviour. In the last year alone, Hastings Council have received over 1,300 incidents of graffiti reported in the area.
The Council and the Safer Hastings Community Safety Partnership arranged for a local art collective, ZEROH, to repaint and clean the alley, helping to brighten and improve the environment of the area.
ZEROH also work closely with volunteer sponsors who are helping to ensure any further graffiti tags are swiftly removed.
The aim of the clean-up, along with a refurbishment on the upper deck, is to encourage more residents to use the historic walkway and improve their feelings of safety.
PCC Katy Bourne has also funded additional CCTV in Hastings as well as improved lighting.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said:
“Graffiti and vandalism adversely affect our communities - they can make public spaces feel unsafe and make it appear that anti-social behaviour is tolerated.
“That’s why I’m delighted that Hastings Borough Council are using their share of our Safer Streets fund to reclaim this historic public space.
“It was great to visit Bottle Alley after the clean-up had taken place and speak with partners who are working closely with Sussex Police. Everyone who joined me on the visit said they are already noticing a positive difference, with more residents, particularly families, using the walkway.”
Attending the visit, Sally-Ann Hart MP said: “Cleaning up graffiti may seem like a simple task, but it shows our collective commitment to a clean, safe and vibrant community.
“The Safer Streets funding has not only provided the financial support for this in Bottle Alley, but also for an art project, supported by over 300 hundred amazing local volunteers. Replacing vandalism with art sends a powerful message that creativity and positivity can triumph over anti-social behaviour”.
Councillor Judy Rogers represents Castle Ward in the town and chairs the Hastings and Rother Community Safety Partnership. She was recently elected as Chair of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel. Cllr Rogers said: “What ZEROH and the local team have done is amazing. You can see just how many people are coming through the alley now that it’s been refreshed.
“We could do with much more art around the town because the one thing we found was that better presented and better maintained spaces, seem to attract much less graffiti and tagging. We’ve got businesses opening along here and its space we have to make the most of.”
A Hastings Borough Council spokesperson said: “Bottle Alley has been plagued with graffiti tags and mindless scrawls for many years. The recent improvements are a result of considerable joint work between the Borough Council the Foreshore Trust, the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner and many local people working with a local artist to restore some of the character of this historic feature.
Graffiti has been removed and will continue to be removed from the Alley as quickly as possible. Taggers need to be aware that police are keeping their eyes open for anyone graffitiing the Alley, or anywhere else in Hastings.”
Neil from ZEROH said: “We have what we call ‘paint days’. This is when we call out to our over 300 volunteers to see which area might need touching up or repainting.
“We have a storeroom with 113 pots of paint, bought at a generous discount from a local family run company Trade Paints with the support of Leyland Paints, which means we can very quickly respond to any repairs that need attending to. The volunteers meet up with us and are allocated a column in the walkway and they go off to do their thing!”
Sussex Police District Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Lauren Buck said:
“The completed regeneration work looks fantastic, making it a year-round space right on the sea front that compliments the nighttime economy. It gives local people a sense of pride in where they live and work.”