A council which destroyed a mural by Banksy has been branded “moronic”, “useless” and “cretinous”, reports the BBC. The work by the Bristol street artist consisted of a stencil showing a group of pigeons holding anti-immigration banners towards an exotic-looking bird. The work appeared in Clacton-on-Sea in October. But it was quickly removed by Tendring District Council, who went on to state the reason for their decision was that someone had complained it was “racist”.
Out of about 40 messages received by the council from the public about its decision to remove the mural, with just one in favour of its actions. Street artist Banksy, who chooses to remain anonymous, created the mural as a response to the local by-election, which was won, as expected, by UKIP.
By the time the infamous street artist had unveiled the piece on his website, it had already been painted over by the council. The art offending district council later stated that it aimed to remove what could be deemed “offensive or racist” material within 48 hours of it being reported. Those who were against the mural’s removal said the artwork would have attracted a great many tourists to Clacton.
“It is an insult to people’s intelligence that you removed it and I can only conclude that it brought home some hard truths to the local people; congratulations on making yourselves internationally famous as a bunch of pusillanimous morons,” one person told the council in a message reported by the BBC following a Freedom of Information Act request.
“It is astonishing that people as cretinous as you have the power to make decisions affecting the public environment.”
Another said it was “a crass act of cowardly authoritarianism”.
“Is this what you are paid to oversee?” they asked. “Crude censorship that drives us back to the middle ages.” Were comments reported by the BBC regarding the removal of the work.
Yet once Tendring District Council realised the work was by Banksy, it hurriedly made a statement that it would be “delighted” if the artist decided to return to Clacton to paint an “appropriate” piece of art. This was met by derision from the local inhabitants with one complainant responding: “Would it be the pound signs that you’d welcome, you bunch of hypocrites?”
It was also pointed out that the council had damaged the reputation of Clacton-On-Sea, as well as costing the local economy hundreds of thousands of pounds potential revenue; if the work had eventually gone to auction, like so many other Banksy’s that have been appropriated for financial gain.
“Clacton has little enough culture as it is and a piece of art such as this would attract many people to the town who would never dream of visiting otherwise,” said one complainant, reported by the BBC. Other comments on the councils actions included: “We are now the laughing stock of the country.” With two complainants stating that the council’s actions should be treated as a crime.
Yet there was opposing support from a woman currently living in the United States who stated that she: “absolutely applaud those that removed this painting,” Continuing: “Banksy, whoever he is, is nothing but a cult artist who thinks he has the privilege of imposing his social comments on all of us.
Nigel Brown, spokesman for the council, 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.”
“The council has never said it was right or wrong to do what it did but that our staff were following our policy.” – reported by the BBC.