A landlord’s decision to destroy a mural painted to protect a memorial to a fallen WWI soldier has been met with outrage.
Local shopkeepers put money towards the mural after the wall around Ernest Beal’s plaque was tagged with an obscene image last year.
Landlords Patrick and Elizabeth Spiers, of Boutport Street, Barnstaple, were consulted over the design and artist Sandy Moon’s poppy field was unveiled in October, in time for Remembrance Sunday.
But this year, Spiers told builders working on the building to paint over it, and it has now been obscured by white paint.
Paul Clark, of Clark’s Meat and Poultry a couple of doors down, was one of those who put money towards the mural.
He said: “The Roundhill Society and the Blue Plaque Society decided to all chip in and do something nice with it.
“The landlord was in agreement with this, it wasn’t done behind his back. He didn’t contribute towards it and he’s now proceeded to paint over it.
“He’s causing uproar around our area. Customers and a lot of people walking past all find it terrible what he’s done. It wasn’t an eyesore, it was a beautiful thing.
“Now it’s gone, there’s already tags outside my shop and they have even tagged the funeral directors.
“He hasn’t for once thought about what the people round here want.”
Artist Sandy Moon has painted many murals around Brighton designed to deter taggers from spraying graffiti on buildings.
She said: “He gave permission through the Blue Plaque society who contacted me to do something to prevent future tagging on the memorial wall.
“I presented the property owner with a photoshopped image of Flanders field with red, purple, white and black poppies in the image but he stated he only wanted red poppies.
“I went ahead and painted 35 red poppies to symbolise the 35 years of Ernest Beal’s life and he didn’t like it.
“He never once cared about the mess from the tagging. He gets a free piece of art on his wall and he paints over it.”
The freshly painted wall has already been tagged – although it appears this is in direct response to the whitewashing.
The owners of buildings who do not paint over tagging are now being fined by the council.
Mr and Mrs Spiers were approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.