A campaign has been launched to save a Banksy artwork and prevent a “crime against culture”.
MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke’s rallying cry called for the owners of the building it occupies to “work with us” to preserve it and keep it in Dover for tourism and future prosperity.
Mr Elphicke called for residents to help him launch the campaign at the artwork on the side of the former arcade on Friday.
On Monday district councillors agreed they want to keep the Banksy in Dover and they pledged to see what can be done to keep it in Dover.
But conceded it was wishful thinking when work by Banksy can fetch over £1million – it is cash the authority does not have.
The Brexit inspired artwork is one of, if not the largest, graffiti work by the anonymous Banksy.
In his speech to them Mr Elphicke said: “Our town is the gateway and guardian of the nation – and on the frontline of Brexit.
“Dover is this Banksy’s rightful home. To demolish it would be a crime against culture.
“The people of Dover want it to stay – and so do I. That is why I am asking for your support. So we can work together to save our Banksy.”
Mr Elphicke said Dover has not previously protected its heritage and culture well and he drew on “the fiasco” of the Folkestone Art Buff where an ownership battle ensued.
He said: “It’s clear we cannot take anything on trust. 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.
“This is why we must act now to save our Banksy. 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 tidied up for a long time now. Yet still the place is a tip.
“The Crypt site is owned by the very same people – the Godden family – who own this building behind me. I urge them to work with us – to help us build a better Dover where we celebrate our culture and our history.”
The MP, re-elected on last Thursday, into a third term, has sent an application to Historic England explaining why saving the Banksy is essential.
He is asking for it to become listed and is calling on DDC to use all its powers to halt any demolition of the building or removal of the work.
He said: “It is clear the building’s nature has fundamentally changed.
“The new waterfront development should have this Banksy at its heart – as a central attraction.
“Regeneration is about more than just new buildings. This is about protecting a piece of our 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 – and save our Banksy.”