We've been battling to renew Dover for years. And then a multimillion pound piece of artwork turns up in the middle of our town overnight. It would be daft to get rid of it. That's why I'm campaigning to Save Our Banksy.
On Friday, I met with residents at the giant Brexit-themed Banksy in York Street. Everyone was in agreement about what an amazing work of art it is – and that we must do all we can to save it.
The Dover Banksy is iconic. Our town is the gateway and guardian of the nation – and on the frontline of Brexit. Wherever you stand on Brexit, this artwork is a statement on our times. Brexit and the European question will loom large over everything for a long time.
The people of Dover want it to stay – and so do I. That is why I am asking for all your support to help save our Banksy. Because in Dover we have not done well enough in protecting our heritage and culture – in looking after the things Dovorians through the ages have loved dearly.
It's clear work needs to be done to improve Bench Street too. Everyone knows I have been calling for the site of The Crypt to be restored. It's been a wasteland ever since the terrible fire 40 years ago. The Crypt site is owned by the very same people who own the Banksy building. I urge them to work with us – to help us build a better Dover where we celebrate our culture and our history.
I hope the building's owners will listen to what the people of Dover want. Yet following the fiasco with the Folkestone Banksy, it's clear we cannot take anything on trust. That's why I have sent an application to Historic England explaining why it is essential this work of art is protected. The Abbey Road crossing immortalised by The Beatles has been listed. Even a 1960s Bournemouth bus depot described as "hideous" was listed. If they are going to list things like that, they should list an iconic piece of art like our Banksy.
It's also important for on Dover District Council to use all powers they have at their disposal to halt any demolition or removal of this Banksy. For it is clear the building's nature has fundamentally changed. The new waterfront development should be reworked to 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 for the people it was intended for, their children and grandchildren.
This artwork may be worth millions. Yet to the people of Dover it is priceless. Let's work together. Let's Save Our Banksy.
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