AS Hackney Council wages war on graffiti and street art, neighbours in Islington are protecting Bansky s work and have even carried out running repairs...

AS Hackney Council wages war on graffiti and street art, neighbours in Islington are protecting Bansky's work and have even carried out running repairs.

Unlike Hackney's street cleaners, who have been instructed that there are to be no exceptions when removing graffiti, over the borough boundary the stencils created by the guerilla street artist, some of whose work has sold at auction for more than £300,000, will be spared.

Cllr Lucy Watt, the deputy leader of Islington Council and executive member for environment, told the Gazette: "We take a very hard line on graffiti and remove it within 24 hours when it is reported to us. We've a rapid response graffiti team, tackling hundreds of incidents a year.

"However, residents have been telling us Banksy is in a class of his own, his art sells for millions and they don't want us to remove the work. When the work is on private property, it is up to the owners whether it is removed or not."

Islington has repaired one of the stencils, Tate Gallery, on five occasions.

Cllr Watt explained: "Because of the quality and renown of Banksy's work, in Islington many people want to see it preserved for as long as possible."

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Hackney, however, is refusing to budge.

In a letter published in this week's Gazette, Cllr Alan Laing, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: "I want to point out that we are not targeting Banksy's work specifically.

"Our policy has always been to target racist or offensive graffiti.

"We then clean up grot spots, where graffiti, fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour go hand in hand. We also target graffiti on council property.

"While we do prioritise in this way, it's not our role to sit in judgement deciding whether a particular piece of graffiti warrants special treatment.

"For many, the very idea of a local authority defining what art is would be totally abhorrent."

Cllr Laing added that the council would exercise its powers to remove graffiti from private property where the few remaining Banksy works in the borough are located.