A gran has been told to remove a Banksy-style anti-Brexit mural painted by her grandchildren on the outside of her house – after it was deemed an ‘advert’.
Bridget Smith, 82, took “great care” planning the EU-themed mural, depicting a graffiti artist spraying the words “Europe says please don’t go”.
She then asked three of her grandchildren to spray it on her house.
But she was stunned when North Somerset Council wrote to her saying the mural was an illegal advertisement and must be removed.
Mrs Smith, of Winford, Som., was given 21 days to remove the mural – or face prosecution at Magistrates Court, and a fine of up to £2,500.
Mrs Smith said: “I was astonished and thought it was ridiculous. I cannot understand how it can be advertising as I am not selling anything or trying to make money out of it.
“I and my whole family have personal ties with several European countries.
“I have been deeply saddened by the way Europe has been portrayed in some quarters as a bully and an enemy.
“I wanted to state a fact as I see it, in the hope it might make some people think in a new way,” she added.
The letter from North Somerset Council said that Mrs Smith was committing an offence under Section 224 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.
The Act claims it is an offence to display any sign in contravention of the Advertisement Regulations.
The letter went on to state the consequences if Mrs Smith should re-erect this advert or any other illegal advertisement in the North Somerset area in the future.
It warned that the council will consider instigating legal proceedings against her “without further warning or correspondence”.
If upheld by the courts a fine of £2,500 could be imposed on the grandmother, with a continuing daily fine of £250 for every day the artwork remains in situ after the notice period.
In a written response to the Council’s letter, Mrs Smith asked if they could explain how they had deemed the artwork was advertising – but she has yet to receive a reply.
Mrs Smith was originally told that the artwork must be removed by yesterday (Feb 25), after it appeared over the Christmas period.
But she says the deadline has now been extended, since her grandchildren – aged 15, 13 and 11 – have now painted over the words, so the mural simply shows a graffiti artist holding a paintbrush.
A spokesperson from North Somerset Council said: “We have received a complaint about this from a local resident.
“We have visited the location and sent the householder a letter saying that we deem this to be an advert, and that it is unauthorised. The letter requests that they remove it.”
The Council went on to say that they would issue no further comment while “the council is in correspondence with the property owner regarding the matter.”
Mrs Smith says that she was not politically campaigning with her message, but instead believed she was making a positive statement at a time of so many negative ones.
She said her whole family spent time discussing the wording of the mural “with great care” before it was painted onto the wall of her home.
They had not expected that its presence would be deemed an offence.
She added: “I cannot help wondering whether there is a political element in the council’s reaction.”
by Selina Cuff and Sarah Lumley
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