Friday 9 December 2016

Mystery of vanishing Banksy spies mural on wall just miles from GCHQ

Published 21/08/2016 | 14:26

The graffiti street art piece on the side of a house on Fairview Road Cheltenham
The graffiti street art piece on the side of a house on Fairview Road Cheltenham
The exposed wall where a graffiti street art piece suspected of being a Banksy appears to have been removed

A famous Banksy artwork satirising Government surveillance has been removed.

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The Spy Booth mural showed three 1950s-style agents, wearing brown trench coats and trilby hats, using devices to tap into conversations at a telephone box.

It appeared overnight in April 2014 on the wall of a house in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, just a few miles from GCHQ where the UK's surveillance network is based.

The mural had been repeatedly subjected to vandalism since being painted on the Grade II listed Georgian end-of-terrace home, which went on the market in January this year for £210,000

In February 2015 Cheltenham Borough Council granted retrospective planning permission - meaning it cannot be removed without the approval of councillors.

But pictures from the scene showed the wall had been stripped back to the brickwork and rubble lying on the ground around the phone box, which was central to the piece.

A video posted on Twitter on Saturday appeared to show the site covered with a tarpaulin and the sound of machinery on masonry.

Gloucestershire Police said they had not received any reports of a crime.

Councillor Steve Jordan, the leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said work had been taking place to repair the plasterwork on the house but he was unaware of the mural being removed.

He added the work had come after the council had issued an enforcement notice which pre-dated the Banksy mural.

He said: "It (the artwork) is protected by a listing.

"I will have a look at what the situation is, certainly."

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