Filed under things that happen in Leith that would never happen in the New Town, and hot on the heels of news that Leith tops the league table of empty shops in Scotland, Leithers will no doubt have noticed their neighbourhood has suddenly been festooned in adverts, flyposting and pavement graffiti, supporting the controversial, and award winning, No Knives Better Lives Campaign.
Our community involvement work on active travel found a clear link between issues like litter, grafitti, flyposting and perceived public safety risks and residents willingness to walk and visit some parts of Leith. Presumably, this campaign is supposed to ‘reassure’ the wider public, whilst targeting young people at risk of getting involved in knife crime.
Local residents we spoke to (in an admittedly unscientific poll) thought the campaign may have the opposite effect – not withstanding the detrimental effect badly applied flyposters have on the local shopping experience, people could be forgiven for thinking that if the government needs to plaster a particular street in ‘anti-stab’ messages then there must be a problem with knife crime in that street. Fromt this perspective, the ‘anti-stab’ messages do seem to rather undermine the government funded efforts to encourage people to come to Leith through the “I Love Leith” campaign.
But perhaps there’s also an even bigger mixed message here. Although one way to define the difference between graffiti and art is the simple word ‘permission,’ it does seem ironic that the council spends thousands of pounds on removing flyposting and treating graffiti each year. This campaign says, well actually, flyposting and graffiti in public spaces is OK – as long as it’s the government that is doing it!
We also wonder where this is going to end. It may be state sponsored graffiti on the pavements today. How long until the council start to see pavements as a revenue generation opportunity? Are sponsored pavements coming soon?
There are lot’s of good things about the No Knives, Better Lives Campaign – the diversionary activities, the partnership working and even this YouTube video below. We’re just wondering – has this campaign over reached itself a bit? What do you think?[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdyBsMnzy_A&fs=1&hl=en_US]