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Government minister urged to protect Banksy artwork in Dover

PUBLISHED: 14:53 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 July 2017

Banksy's artwork in Dover. By Ady Kerry

Banksy's artwork in Dover. By Ady Kerry

Ady Kerry

Charlie Elphicke has asked for the piece to be listed

A senior government minister has been urged to help protect a piece by coveted street artist Banksy, which appeared in Dover earlier this year, from being demolished.

Local MP Charlie Elphicke launched a ‘Save Our Banksy’ campaign last month in a bid to keep the artwork, which depicts a workman on a ladder chipping away at one of the 12 stars on the European Union flag, in the port town.

It is currently located on the side of the former Castle Amusements building, which is set to be demolished, and property owners the Godden family, which also owned the building upon which he daubed his previous Kent work - Art Buff in Folkestone - said the piece is likely to be removed and sold, and that they were looking at options with a London art gallery.

However, Tony Baxter, director at The Sincura Group, which specialises in the recovery, restoration, and sale of highly desirable artwork, told us the piece was ultimately “worthless”, due to the difficulty in finding a buyer for work of that size.

Mr Elphicke has written to Historic England and asked for the piece to be listed, and his proposals will be sent to the Department for Culture, Media and Science for consideration.

The MP then asked arts minister John Glen at a meeting in the House of Commons last week to help maintain the artwork.

“I’m doing all I can to Save Our Banksy,” Mr Elphicke said.

“I told the minister how much it is loved in the town and why we must protect it. The Banksy may be worth millions – but to the people of Dover it is priceless.

“He said he will examine our case carefully when it is sent to the department.”

Dover District Council chiefs met last month to discuss the future of the piece, having been urged by a scrutiny committee to explore available options to protect is “as a matter of urgency”.

Whilst noting that it was a matter for the land owner, the cabinet said it would welcome keeping the mural in Dover, although not necessarily on the same site, as long as it did not impede the town centre, Bench Street, Western Docks master plan development.

Mr Elphicke added: “The new waterfront development should have this Banksy at its heart – as a central attraction. It will draw so many people to visit the town and help make the development a success.

“Renewal is about more than just new buildings. This is about protecting a piece of our culture and history.”

The MP said he had asked the Goddens and the council for a meeting to discuss further.

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