An online petition has been set up demanding the ‘humorous’ plaques situated on benches around the city be brought back.
The plaques were placed around Chester by two street artists with the intention of highlighting Cheshire West and Chester Council’s plans to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) and to raise awareness of the plight of homelessness.
The proposed Public Space Protection Order aims to address antisocial behaviour issues that are having an impact on residents, businesses and visitors across Chester city centre.
Stephanie McAlea, a freelance artist and owner of Stygian Fox Publishing who set up the Bring Back The Chester Plaques petition said the council have done themselves a disservice by taking down the plaques and are making it look as though being poor or homeless is a crime.
Mrs McAlea who lives in Chester insists the council should return the plaques and commission more.
She said: “The council should have had a little laugh to themselves and put them back up – it’s shameful.
“It was an inspired idea that initially brought a humorous reaction from Britain’s media but quickly turned to condemnation of the Council’s ‘funsponge’ attitude.
“They are being short sighted about it – they’re completely out of touch with the people.
“It’s backfired on them by making them look bad and the artists look good.
“I thought they were a great idea – if I had thought about it, I would have done it myself.
“The council should make a trail of plaques on benches to promote the city to visitors.”
Lars Kretschmer, who commented on the Bring Back the Chester Plaques petition, said: “I believe Chester’s policies aimed against homeless people are cruel and penalise rather than support people in need of help.
“The plaques are an intelligent, unobtrusive, even fun, way of protesting against that, and their removal is an infringement on the right of freedom of expression. As the council is quite happy to sell plaque space to sponsors, there can be no question of any material damage to the benches.
“The council doesn’t like the message and hence is trying to silence it.”
Steven Roberts, who also commented, said: “Quirky little things like these make a city interesting for visitors.”
Nick Jones commented: “The Council need to listen to the people who visit and live in Chester.
“These people want spontaneous, meaningful but at the same time appropriate acts of street art.
“The whole point of the art installation was to make people aware of the councils heavy handed abuse of power.
“In the long run the removal of the art has provided more publicity than the artists ever could have.”
Mrs McAlea added: “Come on Cheshire West and Chester, give your head a wobble and gain a sense of humour.”
Last week the council released a statement defending the removal of the plaques.
Maria Byrne, head of place operations for Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "We have removed the plaques from five benches and although they may appear humorous, some people may find them offensive."
Do you think the plaques should be brought back to Chester? Have you signed the petition? Let us know in the comments below