THERE are fears that the Tonedale Bridge in Wellington could be daubed in unsightly and offensive graffiti following plans to make it a “blank canvas” for spray-can artists.

Members of Wellington Town Council’s town centre committee agreed at their latest meeting on March 12 to remove an existing mural on the footbridge and leave it in its natural metal state.

But Cllr Mark Lithgow warned: “Give a blank canvas to any tag (graffiti) artist and they can’t help themselves – graffiti is unpleasant and not nice to look at.

“I would be very against to having the bridge put back to blank metal as that will lead to graffiti.

“I think we should pay for some more artwork to be put on the bridge. Apart from the art on the bridge we don’t spend any money on artwork in the town.”

It was agreed by the committee back in January that spending up to a high of £8,500 on a new mural on the bridge would be an unnecessary waste of money, but to look again at having it repainted.

But the committee voted again at their latest meeting earlier this month to have the bridge just returned to its natural metal state.

There had been suggestions about painting the bridge with a mural or commemoration for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in June to replace an existing artwork carried out in 2022 to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

One idea was to have it repainted in the form of dazzle camouflage - a ship camouflage that was used extensively in the First World War to confuse the enemy.

Dazzle camouflage consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours interrupting and intersecting each other. The intention was not conceal the ship, but to make it difficult for the enemy to estimate a target’s range, speed and direction.

But this failed to win the support of the town centre committee when it met – with quotes coming in at nearly £4,000.

Cllr Janet Lloyd said: “We thought it was a lot of money to paint the bridge in January with a new mural and now to spend between £3,000 and £4,000 still seems a lot of money when we could be spending it on something else.”

Cllr Sean Pringle-Kosikowsky said: “Tonedale Bridge is a bridge and not a boat – you wouldn’t dazzle paint a bridge. It’s a lot of money for something that people wouldn’t understand.”

He suggested the bridge could perhaps be painted in alternating black and white bands – known as invasion stripes – which were painted on the fuselages and wings of Allied aircraft during the Second World War to reduce the chance that they would be attacked by friendly forces during and after the Normandy Landings.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Catherine Govier, added: “I am concerned about the costs and how often would we have to give the bridge a new mural or repaint it?”

Councillors voted in favour of pressure-washing the bridge and leaving it blank.