Gloucestershire

Banksy: Cheltenham campaign raises £115,000

Banksy's Spy Booth artwork in Cheltenham Image copyright PA
Image caption The artwork, now concealed behind scaffolding, has been visited by thousands since it appeared on 13 April

A businesswoman campaigning to keep a Banksy artwork in Cheltenham says £115,000 has now been raised.

The "Spy Booth" mural depicting men "snooping" on a phone box appeared in April, three miles from the government communications headquarters, GCHQ.

Angela De Souza said a businessman had donated £100,000 but it is thought campaigners will need about £650,000 to buy the painting and the house.

Meanwhile, graffiti has appeared on boards placed in front of the artwork.

Image caption A Banksy style image has since appeared on boards covering "Spy Booth"

The campaign to save the "Spy Booth" mural started after scaffolding went up around the painting, sparking fears it would be removed and sold.

Mrs De Souza, from the Women's Business Club, said a local businessman had given them £100,000 and was "willing to match any amount another business is willing to put in".

She added the campaign had also received another donation of £10,000 "on the condition that other businesses match fund it".

The remaining £5,000 comes from the public with people giving amounts ranging from £1 to £1,000.

The campaigners want the "Spy Booth" mural to stay where it is, but Robin Barton, from the Bankrobber gallery in London, has said the owners were considering a seven-figure deal from an American.

Mr Barton, who said he had been asked by the owner of the house to oversee negotiations, said they were "sympathetic to the community's wishes" but could not see "a clear compromise that would leave them unimpeded by the presence and responsibility of owning the building and its associated mural."

Last week Cheltenham Borough Council served a notice to stop work on the Grade II listed building for 28 days.

The council said it had served the temporary stop notice because it "considered that works have taken place, without obtaining consent".

The campaign group said no fundraising deadline had been set, but they wanted to raise the money as quickly as possible.

Their plan is to find the cash needed to buy the house, on Fairview Road, and the painting together and they will meet on 8 July to discuss their strategy on how to keep the artwork in Cheltenham.

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