A bizarre venture to combat graffiti by spraying the words "... is a plonker" after taggers' names has emerged.

Brighton and Hove City Council pursued the novel idea and even had stencils made up by a signwriter.

But it has been abandoned by the city's enforcement team and officers today insisted the proposal had never been taken seriously.

A council source said: "It was one of the more interesting ideas but someone high up got a bit queasy at spraying graffiti on our own buildings and pulled the plug.

"The enforcement team has made tackling graffiti a priority but I think they got a bit carried away on this one. It was deemed to be more appropriate for the playground."

The Argus tracked down the workshop where the vinyl stencils were made, the Stop Sign Shop in New England Road. The owner confirmed they had been ordered, paid for and taken away. He quoted a price of £55 plus VAT for an identical "...is a plonker" sign.

The proposal was dreamed up at a meeting of residents from Brunswick Square in Hove, whose elegant cream architecture has become a prime target for graffiti daubings.

A council spokeswoman said: "One of the senior members at the meeting suggested shaming the people doing graffiti so an officer was asked to have a stencil made up which cost £15.

"However we never considered going ahead with it. It was discussed among staff and immediately thrown out."

She said the idea had been dismissed, not least because it could be seen as adding to the graffiti problem rather than solving it.

She said: "It was not a very sensible idea but we promised a resident we would investigate."

A graffiti vandal was caught by police with paint on his hands.

Kristian Gilles, an art student, ran off after police on patrol saw him and a friend spray silver paint on to a hoarding in North Street, Brighton, in the early hours of March 12.

Gilles jumped over walls and tried to hide in the grounds of the nearby Prince Regent swimming pool complex but was caught when he tripped and fell.

He had silver spray paint on his hands and clothes.

At Brighton Magistrates Court yesterday, Gilles, of Clifton Road, Worthing, admitted causing criminal damage.

The court heard Gilles sprayed 3ft lettering on the hoarding around a building site.

The owner, building company George Wimpey, paid out £300 in paint and labour to cover the graffiti.

Martina Sherlock, prosecuting, said Gilles was carrying a black bag containing five cans of spray paint.

At his home were more cans of paint as well as pictures of graffiti.

Gilles was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £200 compensation.

The court heard the man caught with Gilles was cautioned by police.