Clacton: Council criticised for destroying Banksy mural worth around £400,000 on Clacton seafront

This Banksy artwork has been removed from Clacton seafront

This Banksy artwork has been removed from Clacton seafront - Credit: PA

A council has been criticised for painting over a Banksy mural on an Essex seafront wall after receiving complaints that it was “inappropriate, offensive and racist”.

Graffiti artist Banksy painted one of his iconic works on a boathouse wall in Clacton - only for it to be destroyed by officials from Tendring District Council.

The work, thought to be worth around £400,000, depicts a group of pigeons holding anti-immigration placards saying “Go back to Africa”, “Migrants Not Welcome” and “Keep off our worms”, while an African swallow looks on.

It is thought the work is a reference to next week’s by-election which was triggered when former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP.

Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council’s communications manager, said the authority did not know the piece was by the famous artist, and has invited Banksy to return and paint another mural.

The artwork was reported to Tendring District Council on Tuesday by somebody who deemed the content to be “inappropriate, offensive and racist” and was removed the following morning by council staff.

Mr Brown said: “The first the council knew was that our anti-graffiti team got a call about some remarks on one of our buildings on the low prom on Clacton seafront which they felt were inappropriate, offensive and racist.

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“As usual if we get a complaint of that kind our team will go and investigate – this was on Tuesday afternoon.

“They make a decision as to whether it should be cleaned quickly.

“The first thing they saw were the words which were ‘migrants not welcome’, ‘go back to Africa’.

“Their job is to remove anything deemed to be offensive or inappropriate within 48 hours and they don’t need to report it to anyone else (at the council). They are acting on a complaint and they go and see what they think.

“At the end of the day it was the words that alarmed them – they didn’t probably look at the overall context. We totally accept the irony and the social comment when we are looking at it in a second instance, (but) it’s not obvious to everybody and nor was it obvious to the person that complained about it.”

The council has received several abusive and supportive emails about the mural but the emails that do not agree with the authority outnumber those that do.

Mr Brown said the council would welcome Banksy to create another mural that “isn’t deemed to be offensive”.

“Everyone wants a Banksy but in this case we’ve not felt it was the right one for our seafront building,” he added.