Leeds residents furious as BT paints over Burley Banksy artwork in Rothwell

Leeds residents have been left furious after BT revealed its plans to paint over Burley Banksy artwork in Leeds.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:50 pm

The artist, real name Andy McVeigh, is well known in the city for his light-hearted and colourful murals on telephone boxes.

But he has slammed BT for its decision to paint the boxes green after it received at least one complaint from a resident in Rothwell.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post that BT has suggested they may paint over his artwork across the city and he must fill in a lengthy application process to paint over any BT boxes in the future.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A piece of Burley Banksy artwork in Rothwell
A piece of Burley Banksy artwork in Rothwell

In a Facebook post, Andy said: "BT has started painting over my art boxes in Rothwell, after a few people, a tiny minority, complained that 'they should be green' and not colourful.

"I personally find this incredibly mean spirited, unnecessary and quite staggering especially as we have lived and are living through the darkest times in our lives.

"I was just trying to cheer people up through colour and positive and funny messages.

"They have made a vague statement that they may paint over all of them throughout Leeds and charge me for doing this too.

"I'm presuming this would include the 'Thank you NHS' ones outside our Leeds hospitals too ,which would be an extraordinarily unpleasant thing to do in my opinion after nurses etc have literally died for us."

Andy believes he had acquired full permission from BT for his murals and added that Virgin Media has given him full support for his work.

But Openreach, the division of BT that maintains telephone boxes, claims Burley Banksy did not ask the company if he could paint over the cabinets.

Support has poured in on social media for the artist.

Chris Holloway tweeted: "Many people from Leeds will understand how much cheer the Burley Banksy has provided to our community in what has been a horrible year."

Joanne Gomersall added: "These actions do not have the support of the majority of residents in Leeds! Incredibly sad that people have nothing better to do than complain about someone who brings colour and hope to our communities."

Ben Winterburn said: "We have lived through some dark times over the past year and Burley Banksy has thanked the #NHS staff outside hospitals, they want to paint over charge him for the paint. Hopefully they see sense and overturn this decision."

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We’ve already been in touch with the Burley Bansky to talk this through and we’re keen to continue that conversation directly.

"We’ve worked with many communities and groups in the past, all over the UK, who've wanted to paint our green cabinets to reflect themes important to them – and we have a simple permissions process which allows us to consider these requests in the context of our commercial, legal and health and safety obligations.

"Whilst we agree with any messages of support for the NHS and key workers, we weren’t asked if our cabinets could be painted and much of this artwork isn’t related to keyworkers but is instead being used for commercial gain.

"We’ve also received several complaints from local people unhappy with the artwork – which we have to take into consideration. We’re keen to continue the conversation with both the artist and the wider community to see if we can find a solution that works for everyone.”

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.​