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There have been further developments in the controversy over the mural on the wall of the Home café in the village centre. The Council decided that because the mural included at its centre a TRFC (Tranmere Rovers) logo it met the legal definition of an advertisement and required planning permission. The Council gave the property owner, Ben Harrison, 21 days to either submit a retrospective application or remove the mural. The 21 days expired at the end of last week. We have now been advised that Mr Harrison has agreed to remove the TRFC letters and modify the mural so it more closely represents the official Birkenhead coat of arms. The Council has accepted that with this modification the mural would no longer be defined as an advertisement and, notwithstanding its location in the Conservation Area, it would not be subject to planning control. Mr Harrison has been given 14 days to make the changes.
The Council has considered whether its other legal powers to protect local amenity could be used to enforce removal of the mural. The current position is that the Council officers have concluded that these powers would not be enforceable in this case. If that remains the position the final outcome is that the modified mural will remain. We understand that local Councillors are still in discussion with senior officers about this. We will report any further developments.
Councillo Allan Brame asked what action the Council were considering. He received the following reply:
The owner of the property contacted the Council on Wednesday to confirm that the artist who originally carried out the work and who will make the alterations to the existing mural is no longer able to do so in light of the current coronavirus.The only recourse available to the Council is the instigation of a prosecution for the unauthorised display of an advertisement. However, the Magistrates Court is not likely to view such an action favourably given the current situation and the argument that the owner will inevitably plead in their defence. It is therefore our intention to put the matter on hold until such time that the current situation changes. We have indicated to the owner that as soon as that is the case, the alterations must be made immediately. It is regrettable that this delay has occurred, but we will seek to move the matter along as soon as the situation changes.