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A council hoarding erected to advertise Brick Lane as the 2012 Olympic Curry Capital that covered a giant mural of a crane bird has been removed today by Tower Hamlets Council after a wave of protest.

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Some 1,500 people signed an online petition objecting to the hoarding erected on the side of a building in Hanbury Street which had covered over the mural by renowned international artist Roa.

The owner of the building, curry restauranteur Azmal Hussain, had threatened legal action.

Council workmen moved in this-morning and took down the hoarding bearing a picture of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Hussain, who didn’t give permission for the mural to be covered over, told the Advertiser: “The hoarding was still 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.

They started an online petition with thousands of signatures which accused Tower Hamlets of “incredible short-sightedness” for obscuring Roa’s artwork.

The petition 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. He saw lawyers on Monday and threatened action if the hoarding wasn’t removed.

“I’m glad it’s been taken down,” he added. “I allowed Roa to paint the wall when he came to me two years ago—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 those who signed the petition.

Protester Jane Young wrote: “Peter Roa’s street artwork is an integral part of the fabric of Brick Lane and Spitalfields and is a well loved landmark.”

B Band commented: “It is morally wrong of a council to decide to cover a piece of art with advertising.”

Luc Benyon added: “I’ve already emailed the Mayor.”

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