Graffiti buster offers help

HE is the ‘Mr Sheen’ of the streets in Forster-Tuncurry and he reckons he has the solution to beat the scourge of Park Beach.

Ted Bickford, a 73-year-old volunteer graffiti buster, has worked for 15 years undoing the work of illegal aerosol artists.

Armed with solvents, paint and brushes, Ted gets daily graffiti updates from residents via his mobile hotline.

Patrolling the streets in his colourful truck at dawn, he scrubs off tags before they see the light of day.

“We are a graffiti-free town, kids don’t have the satisfaction of seeing their tags because I clean it off before they do,” Ted said.

His graffiti-busting work was raised at Tuesday night’s public meeting discussing crime and anti-social behaviour at Park Beach.

Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce president Peter Lubans asked local residents if they would be interested in forming a graffiti volunteer group, to which more than 20 people raised heir hands.

“If graffiti is a problem in Coffs Harbour I am happy to come up and speak with the council and community groups to get something established but there needs to be volunteers willing to do the work.”

It sounds like Ted has got them.

When he first started, Ted would just stand back and watch young kids go at it.

“What are you doing here, old man?” the youths would ask him. “I am waiting for you boys to finish,” he would reply.

“As soon as you have finished, I am going to clean it off.

"You’re simply wasting your time, I have all the solvents in my car to get it off.”

Pretty soon Ted’s relationship with young kids in the area began to blossom.

Young offenders sentenced to community service in court now do rounds in the graffiti buster’s truck.

One youth ordered to complete 100 hours community service ended up doing 550 hours just for the love of it.

“He is just obsessed by graffiti,” Great Lakes mayor Jan McWilliams said.

“Ted started off on a pushbike, then council got behind him and it now costs ratepayers just $25,000 a year to cover the cost of the truck, petrol and the paints and chemicals.

“We just don’t have graffiti now.”

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