'I ain't takin' down no mural' - Sherburn barber risks fine for 'defacing' war memorial

1:00am Friday 7th March 2014

Exclusive By Mark Tallentire

A DEFIANT barbers’ shop owner is refusing to remove a controversial Banksy-style mural which overlooks a war memorial, despite claims she has defaced the monument to the heroic dead.

The provocative image shows Edward Scissorhands holding his blades menacingly towards the throat of Mr T, with the text: “I pity the fool who don’t go to... Lads and Dads.”

Lads and Dads owner Janice Stevens had the huge piece painted on the large gable end of her new walk-in barbers’ to mark its opening in Sherburn Village, County Durham.

But it overlooks a memorial to men from the village killed in the world wars and Durham County Council urgently wants it removed.

Undeterred, Ms Stevens, a feisty mother-of-eight, said: “If it had been in Manchester, Birmingham of London, it would have been revered.

“People want to get into the 21st century. It’s put Sherburn on the map.”

Ms Stevens, who grew up in Sherburn, said her young male customers loved the painting and she had received only positive comments, including many “likes” on Facebook.

Ms Stevens said her father owned the war memorial site and denied she had “defaced” the monument.

“I have respect for the war heroes. If they want me to cover it up on Remembrance Day, I’ve no problem with that.”

But she refused to have the art painted over, vowing to fight the council all the way and win.

“It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but I don’t see what the problem is.

“I can’t believe they’re making such a big deal of it. They want something better to do.”

If she loses, she could be fined up to £1,000.

County councillor David Hall said the new business was welcome but the mural had caused upset in the village and been divisive and Ms Stevens should adhere to the rules.

After speaking to The Northern Echo, Ms Stevens wrote on the Lads and Dads Facebook page: “Well! Controversy is my middle name: the Sherburn Lads n Dads has made it into the papers... thanks to all the mural haters for the massive free advertising.

“As a huge thank you for your support anybody that mentions the mural will get a pound off their hair cut.”

The council says the mural is an advertisement and, as such, needs permission.

“This has not been sought by the owners of the business concerned and – due to the proximity to the war memorial and the fact that this is a conservation area – we have contacted those associated with the business to request the removal of the mural,” Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning and assets, said.

“We have received a number of complaints about the mural from local councillors and residents who feel the image is inappropriate given that it is next to the village war memorial.”

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