XR activists deface King's Lynn council buildings with messages urging climate change action
Activists have defaced West Norfolk Council buildings in Lynn with climate change messages in an effort to get officers and elected members to "face the issue".
Members of Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn and West Norfolk (XRKLWN) used chalk spray paint to target the council offices in Chapel Street, St James multi-storey car park and the pavement in front of the town hall.
Monday's graffiti, accompanied by the Extinction Rebellion logo, included "climate emergency", "act now" and "You R failing us". Chalk spray paint washes off and is not harmful to the environment.
Council leader Brian Long says the criminal damage has been reported to the police and officers could use CCTV footage to identify those responsible for the "highly irresponsible act".
The action came on the day prior to the council's cabinet meeting when a draft new climate change policy will be discussed.
Today, a spokesperson for XRKLWN said the action was aimed specifically at West Norfolk Council and hoped that the public would not frown upon such actions.
"It wasn't for impact, it's simply trying to get the message across to the council," she told the Lynn News. "We haven't just been ignored, we've gone backwards."
The group is angry, claiming Mr Long is scrapping the cabinet role responsible for the environment, which the leader has denied.
The previous incumbent, Cllr Ian Devereux, resigned from the role in July , saying that he wanted to make room for someone who could give the necessary commitment.
He said at the time: “Basically I don’t have the energy to continue. I have taken the job seriously but I’ve been looking to reduce my external involvement for some time now.
“It’s purely and simply the inability to do the workload.”
XRKLWN said this week: "Brian Long must reinstate the environment portfolio and appoint someone who will take the role seriously by bringing about meaningful change to prevent the worst of the climate and ecological crisis."
It added: "While nationally Extinction Rebellion is known for non-violent civil disobedience, our local XR group has tried to work with the council to push for progress.
"The tiny steps the council have taken are completely out of step with the scale of what is necessary, and now we see plans to turn around and go backwards. This is unacceptable, and so has been met with an escalation of our tactics locally."
The group claims that, despite regular pleas, the council will not engage with it.
The spokesperson, who said the chalk paint graffiti would wash off "with a bit of elbow grease", added: "We don't want to upset anybody. Quite the opposite - we want to help the world."
Mr Long denounced the action and said tackling climate change was a "priority" for the council
He said: “This is a highly irresponsible act at a time when council resources are already stretched. We have had to redirect staff to clean off the graffiti, who would otherwise be focusing on cleaning council venues to ensure they are safe for staff and public in a time when Covid cases are on the increase. This criminal damage has been reported to the police who will no doubt review CCTV coverage as part of their investigation.
“The statements made by XR are incorrect. Far from ‘scrapping’ the environment portfolio, I have brought environmental matters into my own portfolio, demonstrating the importance that I give to these issues, and providing additional gravitas when these matters are discussed.
"We all agree that tackling climate change is a priority and this council is acting. A climate change policy has been produced and this will be followed up with a strategy and action plan, which will set out what actions we will be taking to tackle climate change in this area.”