Fed up with vandals “tagging” his fish and chip shop with graffiti, Mathew Tate took the initiative and commissioned a professional graffiti artist to design something appropriate.
The artwork - a smiling fish nicknamed Boris giving a thumbs-up to passers-by - has graced the outside of his shop in Slaithwaite for four months.
But now planners with Kirklees Council have told him it must go.
“I had a call from someone at the council,” says Mathew, 36. “He said, ‘I am ringing about some illegal advertising on your wall. It needs council permission and we will not be granting it.’
“I explained to him about the tagging and he said it was nothing to do with the council. I have to re-paint it back to a white wall or they will prosecute me.”
Mathew took on The Bridge Fisheries, on Britannia Road, with his girlfriend Morgan Braithwaite three years ago. It was previously run by his parents. Twice in six months vandals spray-painted the white back wall of the shop. Mathew forked out £200 each time to re-paint it.
After that he used his initiative... but fell foul of local authority regulations.
“I want my business to look smart. It shouldn’t be a place for children to scribble on in the middle of the night. I can’t keep paying out £200 a time.
“I went to school with Martin Hayhurst, who is a professional graffiti artist. He goes into schools and tries to teach kids about art rather than graffiti. He also said that kids will not tag graffiti art because they consider it artwork.
“I’ve had no complaints whatsoever. The Masonic Lodge is opposite and they are happy. It brightens up the area.”
Mathew is now considering setting up a petition in a bid to save the art. Customers commenting on his Facebook page have called the council’s stance “ridiculous” and urged him to fight it. However planners have already said they will decline a retrospective application for planning permission because the fish shop is in a conservation area.
“It’s a nice piece of art. It’s not a monstrosity,” claims Mathew.
A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The planning enforcement team has contacted the owner as a result of complaints received about the advertisement displayed on the side wall of the business premises, which is located within a Conservation Area. The advertisement requires consent to be displayed, and at this time no consent has been applied for or given by the council. As such we have requested that the business remove the advert within 14 days.”