Clacton-based council comes under fire after removal of Banksy mural

The Banksy mural that was cleared from a wall in Clacton.

The Banksy mural that was cleared from a wall in Clacton. - Credit: Archant

Clacton-based Tendring council came under fire from members of the public in a series of e-mails following its decision to destroy a Banksy mural that some officials considered racist during the recent by-election campaign.

It has been estimated that the mural, which appeared on a shelter in early October, could have been worth up to £400,000.

But a council official decided that the picture – showing a group of pigeons holding placards urging a swallow to “Go back to Africa” was racist and had it destroyed.

In a response to a Freedom of Information request, the council has now published more than 20 anonymous comments it had from members of the public about the incident.

Most were hostile to its decision. One asked: “Who was using the council brain cell when it approved the destruction of the Banksy mural?”

Another comment was: “You bunch of fools, do you understand nothing? It’s art, it is a satire of UKIP et al, it’s not offensive and/or racist. Every other council that has received a ‘Banksy’ has been really proud of it and has protected it, but not you muppets!

“You’ve made yourselves and the people of Clacton look like idiots.”

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While another said: “Congratulations Tendring District Council. You are now nationally (and possibly internationally) famous for being the most short-sighted, knee-jerk council in the whole of the United Kingdom.”

However the council has one supporter, from a British ex-pat now living in Texas who said: “I absolutely applaud those that removed this painting. Banksy – whoever he is, he is nothing but a cult artist who thinks he has the

privilege of imposing his social comments on all of us. Well done Clacton!”

Tendring spokesman Nigel Brown said the council had received a considerable amount of feedback after the Banksy was removed on Clacton Seafront.

“Views came in from across the District, UK and abroad and we received media interest from around the world,” he said.

“It was very much a mixed bag with some strong opinions on both sides. As is often the case, you tend to hear more from those who object – but we did also receive support for the action we took.”

He added: “The Council has never said it was right or wrong to do what it did but that our staff were following our policy which is to remove what is deemed to be offensive or racist material from our buildings within 48 hours.

“It was certainly a talking point at the time and continues to be so,” he said.

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