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LONDON (Reuters) - A local council has removed a mural by British artist Banksy following a complaint it was racist, a week before voters in the area decide whether to elect Britain's first lawmaker from a party opposing mass immigration.
The depiction on a wall in the seaside town of Clacton in southeast England showed a group of pigeons holding signs stating "Migrants not welcome" and "Go back to Africa" directed at a small green bird.
Tendring District Council said it received a complaint on Tuesday that the artwork was "racist" and "offensive" and removed it, unaware that it was thought to be by Banksy.
The image has appeared on Banksy's website. Known for his ironic social commentary through graffiti and stenciled paintings in public spaces and private property around the world, Banksy emerged in Bristol, England, in the early 1990s.
The real name of the artist, whose street art has previously sold for more than a million dollars, remains unknown.
Nigel Brown, communications manager at Tendring District Council, told Reuters that another piece of Bansky's art would be welcome in the area but not a repeat of the same artwork.
"Not the same thing, because even if we knew it was Bansky, if that could be seen by some people as being inappropriate, offensive or racist, we would still want to remove that," he said.
The election next week in Clacton is a key test for Prime Minister David Cameron as it comes after the local lawmaker defected from his ruling Conservative Party to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Cameron has seen support soar for UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the European Union. It has come second in a string of local polls in recent months but has so far failed to gain representation in parliament.
Reporting By Costas Pitas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky