Mayor Rahman removes 2012 hoarding blocking Roa’s crane mural after protests

Controversial Mayor Lutfur Rahman today ordered a Tower Hamlets council promotion hoarding in Brick Lane that covered a giant mural of a crane bird by international artist Peter Roa to be removed after a wave of protest.

He gave way to the 1,500 protesters who signed an online petition objecting to the billboard erected on the side of a building to promote Brick Lane as the 2012 Olympic Curry Capital. Even the owner of the building objected.

Mayor Rahman said in a statement to the Advertiser this-evening: “Given the affection in which the illustration is held, the council removed the banner at my instruction this-morning.”

The Town Hall admitted the 50ft-high hoarding was taken down because of “the petition to remove the council-installed banner” from the wall of 49 Hanbury Street.

Council workmen removed it after the building owner, curry restauranteur Azmal Hussain, threatened legal action.

Mr Hussain said: “The hoarding was there when I closed the restaurant at 3am. I got back later to find it gone.”

Passers-by and residents and traders were furious when the hoarding suddenly appeared last week, covering the mural.

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The petition accused Tower Hamlets of “incredible short-sightedness” for obscuring Roa’s artwork.

It said: “Everyday hundreds of people are captivated by a beautiful artwork.

“The artist, whose work sells out in galleries across the world, asked nothing in return, an incredibly selfless gift to the people of East London.

“To recklessly take it away from the people of London is incredibly short-sighted.”

Mr Hussain says he only gave permission for a small notice to be put up—not the huge hoarding that appeared which totally covered the artwork.

“I allowed Roa to paint the wall when he came to me two years ago,” he explained. “But I didn’t want it covered by a banner with Mayor Rahman’s picture on it.”

Tower Hamlets council said their banner reflected the East End’s pride that Brick Lane has been designated the official 2012 Curry Capital.

But that cut no ice with the 1,500 protesters signing the petition.