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Dover Banksy: What we're doing to save Brexit mural

By Beth Robson

Unseen forces are still battling away to save Dover's crumbling Banksy mural.

The imposing graffiti, valued at £1million by an expert in July, greets traffic bound for the Port of Dover with the reminder that we have chipped away our standing in the European Union.

It is an attraction for tourists and art lovers, and now its peeling paintwork, resting on crumbling plaster prom,pts the question: What's being done?

Banksy mural valued at £1,000,000

Dover and Deal MP Charlie has revealed he continues to press Dover District Council to protect it, and he previously called the prospect of losing it a "crime against culture".

He said: “The Banksy mural should be preserved for the town. It has become an iconic piece of culture that draws visitors to Dover.

A symbol of Brexit, the Banksy Mural in Dover
A symbol of Brexit, the Banksy Mural in Dover

“As part of our Save our Banksy campaign we applied to have the building listed.

"Historic England would not do so. However, it can be preserved by the council using their planning powers.

“That's why I have been pressing the council to take steps to Save Our Banksy.”

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke says his Save our Banksy campaign called for the building to be listed. It was rejected and now he hopes the district council will use its buying powers to keep it in Dover
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke says his Save our Banksy campaign called for the building to be listed. It was rejected and now he hopes the district council will use its buying powers to keep it in Dover

The owners, the Godden family of Folkestone said they want to sell the work for charity and local good causes. We have tried contacting them for this story to see if their plans have changed, and whether they want it to stay in the site on the corner of York Street and Townwall Street.

The former amusement arcade has been out of use for a decade and was earmarked for demolition as part of the Dover Western Docks Revival Project.

But transporting the giant work of art could prove to be a logistical nightmare. Roads would need to be closed, police would need to be contacted and keeping it in one piece would be difficult.

The move from its original location at the corner of York Street and Townwall street could also be detrimental to its worth.

Will it stay or will it go? The Dover Banksy is crumbling away while answers are being found
Will it stay or will it go? The Dover Banksy is crumbling away while answers are being found

Art valuer John Brandler added: "It has extra value being in its correct position so if you bought this piece and moved it away from Dover it would be less significant and less valuable."

Despite the enormous price tag another expert said the real value is in what it brings to the port town, including the possibility of opening up a street art museum and the increased number of tourists that stop to see it.

Fine art valuer, David Parker said: "I stood here for 10 minutes on my own getting my thoughts together about it and I must have seen certainly 80 people look at it and 20 people take photos of it. That's in a 10 minute span."

In Decay: The Castle Amusements site is derelict and was earmarked for demolition amid the Dover Western Docks Revival scheme - before Banksy struck.
In Decay: The Castle Amusements site is derelict and was earmarked for demolition amid the Dover Western Docks Revival scheme - before Banksy struck.

Although its image has become synonymous with Brexit news in the press, the secret artist's message has never been revealed.

Some say it illustrates the post referendum political landscape with the painted workman getting on with the job in hand while triumphant and lamenting voters continue their debate.

In July 2017 former Dover councillor Nathaniel Richardson called on Dover District Council to issue a compulsory purchase order to preserve it in situ and he launched an online petition. The next month he called for it to be used as an art gallery - with its most renowned and valuable piece on the building's exterior.

Profiteers at work: Paintwork, claimed to be from the Dover Banksy mural, was put up for sale on eBay
Profiteers at work: Paintwork, claimed to be from the Dover Banksy mural, was put up for sale on eBay

He felt this was especially needed with major developments such as the £53million St James’ retail and leisure project nearby.

A Dover District Council spokesman said: "The building is privately owned and is the responsibility of the landowners."

Leader of Dover District Council Cllr Keith Morris would like the Banksy mural to remain because it's "Part of Dover's story"
Leader of Dover District Council Cllr Keith Morris would like the Banksy mural to remain because it's "Part of Dover's story"

The authority's leader Cllr Keith Morris elaborated that the council has been in talks with building owners the Godden Family and "all options are open - whether that be restoring it, removing it, keeping it there without the building and keeping it there with the building."

He added: "I am keen, as it's now part of Dover's story, to retain it but it is the responsibility of the owner.

He told us he remains cautious about how the council spends money in light that the artwork is seen by some as graffiti.

This is not the first time Banksy has hit Kent, another piece of artwork in Folkestone has caused a lot of controversy.

For more quirky and unusual stories, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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