Council contractors apologise after mural of Birmingham poet Benjamin Zephaniah painted over

  • Andy Bevan reports on the anger in the local community after the council error.

A mural depicting the Birmingham poet and campaigner Benjamin Zephaniah, who died in December last year, has been painted over by council contractors.

The colourful painting was on the wall of an underpass in the Hockley area of Birmingham.

Council contractors Kier removed it - because it was not covered by a protection order.

It was made in tribute to the poet and activist who died last December after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The company has now apologised for their actions and said it will work with the artist to recreate the art work, including providing materials.

The city council said that contractors working for Kier regularly remove graffiti or paintings on subway walls. They are supposed to leave artwork within the Hockley underpass area as there is a protection order in place, but the order fails to include the outside walls - where this painting was.

Benjamin Zephaniah Credit: PA

They said, "We confirm that we will be seeking to add this particular section of the Hockley subway system to the protection order, to further mitigate against this happening again in future.”

A Kier spokesperson said: “We apologise for any hurt or distress we have caused by painting over this mural, crews were carrying out their standard duties and there was no ill-intent, but we accept the upset caused by our actions.

“We are working with Birmingham City Council to review the graffiti removal process with a view to ensure more sensitivity is demonstrated moving forward. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the artist and provide supplies in order to recreate artwork to represent Benjamin and his life.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...