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Cheltenham Festival: Cheltenham Borough Council’s ‘War on wee’ campaign in full flown during raceweek

For most Cheltenham Festival normally brings a party feel to the Gloucestershire town, with hundreds of thousands of punters flocking to the racecourse. But for some local residents the influx of punters is more of a nuisance than a blessing.

A rise of anti-social behaviour is always a concern for those who live in Cheltenham, with plenty of alcohol consumed and far more people descending on the town centre’s streets, the Cheltenham Borough Council have begun a ‘War on wee’ campaign.

In an attempt to dissuade racegoers from urinating in public throughout the raceweek, residents and businesses have been lacing their building exteriors and walls with hydrophobic paint. The paint will repel liquid back towards its source on impact and is expected to reduce the amount of public indecency throughout the festival.

“One of the biggest complaints during race week, is that visitors to the town and it’s a small minority of racegoers only, are doing things that aren’t acceptable and wouldn’t be accepted on 51 other weeks of the year,” said Councillor Max Wilkinson.

“One of those things is urinating in public, it’s disgusting, it’s threatening in some places and it just shouldn’t be happening in Cheltenham, local businesses and local people shouldn’t have to put up with it.

“There were no fines given out during race week last year, despite a number of high-profile viral videos shared online of people urinating in public. I’m hoping that we’ll make a difference.”

Across previous festivals the council have installed temporary toilets throughout the route to the race course, but with just under 300,000 people flocking to the town each festival, a number of people decided not to queue and instead would opt to urinate in public.

The council and Wilkinson who is cabinet member for economic development, culture, tourism and wellbeing are hoping their ‘war’ will help bring an end to the issue over the coming years.

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“For me it’s not necessarily about eradicating it in year one, what we need to do is make sure the message gets through that it’s not acceptable to urinate in public. 

“I think in the past day or so, we’ve already seen reports of people who are urinating in public and it’s not what we would like to see at all. I would urge anyone who’s visiting the races today and in the next two days not to do that.

“The war on wee title wasn’t designed to be pleasant but it’s got plenty of attention and it’s been covered all across the national press. That should make people visiting Cheltenham to know that it isn’t acceptable to be absolutely hammered during race week and wee in public on someone’s front garden or down an alleyway off the high street.”

Wilkinson is hoping that anyone who does decide to ignore the guidance of the council will learn after they come away with a “nasty surprise” of “wet trousers and wet shoes,” if they happen to cross paths with the hydrophobic paint.

“Beards in the town centre have applied some of the paint to their shutters. I was out there with them earlier in the week and there are a couple of other businesses that have done it. 

“Most of it has been done by the business improvement district, including some alleyways. I’m hoping that we’ll make a difference.”

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