A Tech City start-up is facing a £3,000 bill for “illegal advertising” on the streets of Hackney.
Sup, an app that helps friends find each other by location, is to be slapped with a fine and a hefty cleaning bill for a series of stencilled adverts across pavements in Shoreditch.
Hackney Council says it intends to fine the company around £240, as well as charge a cleaning fee of £80-£100 for each advert.
So far council sleuths have discovered 30 such adverts on streets, including some on Old Street and Great Eastern Street.
The marketing campaign is similar in style to a recruitment drive by GCHQ last November, which saw job adverts for the security agency sprayed on Shoreditch pavements.
Hackney Council at that time said it had no evidence that the GCHQ adverts were sprayed onto Hackney’s streets, although GCHQ claimed it had sought permission from the council for the adverts.
Rich Pleeth, who founded the app in December last year, said it was a “shame” the council had chosen to pursue and punish a small local business.
“They were never going to go after GCHQ, were they?” he said.
Mr Pleeth claimed the graffiti must have been the work of one of the firm’s 30 freelance ‘brand ambassadors’, who are not employed by the firm directly.
However, he admitted that “nobody had owned up to it” as yet.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said the council would “take action” against anyone found to have illegally advertised in the borough.
“We won’t tolerate our streets being defaced by illegal advertising, and will take action against anyone responsible.
“Cleaning graffiti does not come cheap – it costs Hackney Council tax payers £80-£100 to clean a single advert off a pavement. We have found around 30 of these sprayed on our streets, so the company responsible is likely to get a hefty bill, as well as a fine of around £240.”