New graffiti by Belgian artist ROA is at risk of removal by Hackney council. Graffiti by ROA, the Banksy of Belgium, have appeared in several locations around the Brick Lane area over the last two weeks.
Hackney councillors say anyone can ask for graffiti to be removed even if they do not own the property.
Marie Melou and Ghislan Melo, a brother and sister who run a tattoo parlour near Brick Lane with an ROA design of a pig on the shop front want to keep the graffiti because it has drawn customers into their shop. Neither of them knew of the council’s policy.
Ms Melou said: “It is on our shop so we can decorate it how we like.”
But councillor Alan Laing, Member of Cabinet for Neighborhoods, said they are obliged to work to keep the streets and public areas clean.
“Our residents repeatedly tell us that this is a priority for them. If a property owner wishes to keep graffiti that is on their property then there is a process that they need to go through and they need to contact us as a first step.”
The council says all reports of graffiti will be investigated within 48 hours and non-offensive graffiti removed within 14 days.
ROA’s work depicts pigs, ravens, squirrels and other animals. He rarely works outside his home country but was part of the Brick Lane Zoo exhibit at the Brick Lane Gallery, which finished two weeks ago.
Locals say that he left the graffiti as a gift to the area. Mr Melou said: “Graffiti gives this area charm.”
In September, Hackney Council covered a Banksy mural on a house with paint, against the owner’s wishes. The council said it had tried to notify the owner, but the letter went to an old address. Cllr Laing said the council was working to resolve the issue.