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Council offers to remove Banksy artwork

Neath Port Talbot said its offer to replace the garage it was painted on has been refused by its owner.

A Banksy artwork painted on the side of a garage could be removed and relocated by a local council.

Neath Port Talbot Council said the garage’s owner initially turned down an invitation to talks, but its offer to protect the work still stands after the man said the snub was a “misunderstanding”.

The council said in a statement on Tuesday that its priority was to “preserve and protect” the “exciting example of modern urban art” which appeared on steelworker Ian Lewis’s garage in Taibach, Port Talbot, in December.

The statement said: “The council yesterday offered the property owner the opportunity to loan the Banksy to the people of Neath Port Talbot on a permanent basis.

“The council would remove, store and relocate it at a location to be decided following a public consultation.

“We have proposed to meet the cost in full – including a like-for-like replacement garage, but Mr Lewis has refused the offer of a meeting to discuss the matter further.”

The council said leaving the artwork where it is is “not practical” and pointed to traffic congestion in the area as well as security costs picked up by the taxpayer.

It added: “Ultimately it is not our property and the future of the artwork and its impact on surrounding residents lies solely with the garage owner.

“It is our understanding that he wishes to pursue other options, as is of course his right, but our doors remain open should he change his mind.”

On Tuesday, Mr Lewis, 55, told the Press Association his refusal to meet council officials had been a “misunderstanding on my part”.

Asked for his reaction to the council’s offer, he said: “I’d rather not say.”

He previously admitted struggling with the attention the Banksy work had been receiving since it appeared before Christmas, saying: “It started off as fun, but now it’s gone to stress.”

PA Media