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Banksy pop art image collars attention in Cotswolds

Hello, hello, hello.

Once upon a time the police would have been chasing down the street artist known as Banksy to arrest him, but if they catch him in Tetbury they may well say 'thank you'.

A life-size Banksy-style image of a police officer on a wall facing a busy road junction appears to be causing a double-takes from drivers - who are reducing speed as a result.

It was not the intention of the black and white spray-painted piece, just an added bonus, but the twists in the story do not stop there.

When once the town's deputy mayor would have been calling for the graffiti artist to spend time in the stocks for defacing the side of a listed building, in this particular tale that is unlikely as he would only be punishing himself.

The artist in question is not Banksy but the town's deputy mayor no less. And although he chose to commit his art 'anonymously' and in a suitably provocative place (a-la-Banksy) on the wall of the town council offices no less - he did so with the permission of the local authority.

In a twist which might have the real Banksy aghast but respects Mr Painter's position (and ensures his liberty once the real local police read this) Listed Building Consent was obtained for the project.

It's either an example of how times change, and as the artist puts it, a reflection on the residents of the Cotswold town.

"There is an element of 'if you can't beat them join them' to it, but I think it says a lot about the town. Yes, it is a Cotswold town with important neighbours at Highgrove, but it likes to have fun too," said Mr Painter, who provided the art work for free.

"One of the other effects this has had is causing drivers at what is a relatively busy junction to slow down," he added, clearly amused.

Mr Painter is also a member of the town's chamber of commerce, as well as a writer, artist and newspaper columnist with a particular interest in comic books, cartoons and pop art.

Councillor Sandra Ball, the newly-elected Mayor of Tetbury, was clearly onside.

"We are delighted to welcome a new Police Officer to Tetbury - we look forward to seeing a reduction in the crime figures," said Cllr Ball.

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