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Outrage after city artwork in underpass destroyed in hours

By Kelly Wickham


Just days after it was decorated, graffiti has been painted on the underpass in Oaklands Way.


After a deliberate fire destroyed homeless people’s belongings and damaged the underpass walls, the area was repainted.


The Northgate underpass, which connects the Northgate car park to the top of North Street, was the scene of a blaze on January 3, dealt with by Chichester firefighters.


Upon arrival, crews found a fire involving the possessions of a homeless person, and used one hose reel to put the fire out, with the damage covering an area of around five square metres.


A team of firefighters and volunteers cleaned the soot and fire damage and repainted the underpass with white paint and just a few days later graffiti tags were then sprayed.


Having been painted three times by volunteers in two weeks after the homeless men’s possessions were destroyed in a fire, the Chichester underpass was continually vandalised.


Chichester District Council decorated the underpass with graphics depicting stand-out features in Chichester and two days later the graffiti returned.


Founder of the homeless charity, Four Streets Project, Donna Ockenden, said: “Since the terrible events including a fire destroying the possessions of two homeless men and harassment of some of our vulnerable homeless people by youths, The Four Streets Project have been heartened by the tremendously kind response of the local community.


“The underpass has been cleaned and decorated at least three times, by both our local fire and rescue service and now by the local council.


“Sadly, a tiny minority of people continue to damage it. This is really sad. We need to keep reminding ourselves that this behaviour represents a tiny number of the people who live and work within Chichester.”


The artwork has been destroyed by the tags ‘Skid’ and ‘Fat Bois’.


“I can only express my deep sadness as we have campaigned many months to have the underpass made presentable,” said mayor of the city, Cllr Richard Plowman.


“It is often the initial experience of many visitors to Chichester. For the first time in over 15 years the underpass looked really good. It is such a shame that certain individuals take so little pride in our wonderful city.”


The graffiti has since been removed.

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