Saving latest town spy Taxi firm bids to keep street art
AMURAL depicting a spy hailing a taxi on the side of a building has been saved. The mural was under threat due to the depiction of the spy holding a Greggs shopping bag and the word ‘Taxi’ in a speech bubble as these were earmarked by Cheltenham Borough Council as being advertisements, which would need permission to stay there.
The Royal Well Place building is owned by Starline Taxis Cheltenham. street artist John D’oh stenciled the artwork in the dead of night last November, much to the surprise of the taxi firm.
Due to fierce public demand after a post surfaced on Starline’s Twitter page about the mural’s imminent removal, the taxi company have reversed their decision to paint over it.
After the mural went up last November, the council requested that the owners of the building - Starline company directors Rob Bates and Leon
Jackson - apply for retrospective planning permission to retain the mural.
Starline’s Mr Bates initially saw the artwork as “a problem” and “didn’t like it at first” so he made plans to have it painted over rather than apply for planning permission.
He said: “It was something that the council were immediately on my case about getting it removed and it suddenly became a problem, having this artwork put on the side of the building - which we didn’t ask for - so this became a problem which caused us an issue.”
However, the council have stated that they never pushed for the artwork to be removed.
A spokeswoman for Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “Our initial conversations with the owner took place around Christmas-time when the artwork/advertisement first appeared; the owner told the council that he would have the artwork/advertisement removed, and that he was indifferent about keeping or removing it.”
Since posting on Twitter that mural would be removed, Mr Bates said “the outcry has been quite dramatic”.
He went on to say: “I contacted the council to say that I am not having it removed and I asked them, what’s the next thing to do?”
He said that they gave him two options, to paint out the words ‘Taxi’ and the Greggs bag or apply for planning permission.
He said that he went for the latter option to not change the artwork as “I don’t really want to do that, it’s someone else’s artwork - I don’t think we have the right to change it”.
The 51-year-old company director said: “I didn’t realise the amount of people that enjoy it so we’ll put the application in and take it from there.”
He added that the Starline firm had grown fond of the mural as time went by and “we would miss it”.
The mural is a pastiche of Banksy’s famous 2014 Spy Booth.
“I did it for a bit of fun and humour,” said Mr D’oh, who like Banksy is based in Bristol.
“The people of Cheltenham are now familiar with the long gone characters from Banksy’s 2014 Spy Booth, so it was nice to recreate a bit of the iconic image for nostalgia.”
“It was painted on the side of Starline Taxis hence why he is hailing a taxi.
“The Greggs bag is referring a store that has opened inside the new GCHQ building and the fourth to open in Cheltenham I believe.”
However, Starline’s Mr Bates who has spoken to the artist says that the artwork goes deeper than that and it is actually depicting an actual spy who was working at Cheltenham’s GCHQ.
I didn’t realise the amount of people that enjoy it
The design on the Starline Taxis office