Cheltenham Banksy artwork 'belongs to the government'

There are questions over the ownership of the Banksy Spy Booth mural in Cheltenham, as Steve Knibbs reports

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A Banksy artwork painted on a Cheltenham house belongs to the Department for Transport, a retired chartered surveyor claims.

Campaigners trying to stop the "Spy Booth" artwork from being removed say they have proof the wall it is on is owned by the government.

The work depicting men "snooping" on a phone box appeared in April three miles from government listening post GCHQ.

A Department of Transport spokesman said it was looking into the claims.

Last month it was claimed the stencilled work had been sold by the owners of the house, on the corner of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road, and would be removed.

It was covered up with panels when a team of workmen came to remove it, but earlier this month Cheltenham Borough Council issued a stop notice preventing further removal work from taking place on the Grade II* listed building.

Land Registry document Phil Jones claims he has proof the Banksy belongs to the UK government

Local campaigners have been trying to raise money to buy the artwork to allow it to stay in situ.

Retired chartered surveyor Phil Jones said a Land Registry title proved the wall was owned by the secretary of state for transport.

He said the external wall on which the Banksy was painted used to be the internal wall of another house, the rest of which was demolished about 50 years ago.

"It was a house previously acquired circa 1960, which was knocked down for road improvements," he said.

"The government should acknowledge that they own it and that it's in the public realm for the benefit of the people of Cheltenham."

The owner of the house, Roger Wilson, said he was taking legal advice about the ownership of the wall.

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