Home » ‘Are we not in Britain?’ Furious Greenwich residents say there is nothing wrong with Union Jack mural outside chip shop after council ordered owner to tear it down because they did not have planning permission

‘Are we not in Britain?’ Furious Greenwich residents say there is nothing wrong with Union Jack mural outside chip shop after council ordered owner to tear it down because they did not have planning permission

Furious Londoners today insisted there is nothing wrong with a Union flag mural outside their local chip shop after the local council ordered its owner to get rid of it because he did not have planning permission. 

Chris Kanizi, who runs the Golden Chippy in Greenwich, south-east London, insists visitors love snapping selfies next to the patriotic mural, which shows a fish waving a Union flag alongside the caption ‘a Great British meal’. 

Greenwich council said they received a ‘number of complaints’ about the mural and said it was an ‘unauthorised advert’. But locals could not see the issue, with one telling MailOnline today: ‘It’s a British flag. We are in Britain.’

Ainsley, a frequent visitor to the area, also blasted the council – which has insisted its stance against the mural was due to it being painted without permission in a conservation area rather than the fact it shows a Union flag. 

‘It’s a British flag. We are in Britain and it’s celebrating Great British fish and chips. What’s wrong with that? The council should concentrate and put their time and money into things that actually matter.’ 

Are YOU in a row with your council? Email katherine.lawton@mailonline.co.uk 

The mural outside the Golden Chippy in Greenwich, south-east London

The shop installed the £250 mural which features the patriotic fish just weeks ago

The shop installed the £250 mural which features the patriotic fish just weeks ago

Chris Kanizi (pictured) is the owner of the award winning The Golden Chippy in Greenwich High Road

Chris Kanizi (pictured) is the owner of the award winning The Golden Chippy in Greenwich High Road

Recently graduated student and local resident Francis Cho with the offending mural

Recently graduated student and local resident Francis Cho with the offending mural 

Local fan and chip shop regular Steve poses with his chips next to the mural

Local fan and chip shop regular Steve poses with his chips next to the mural 

The Monday Walking Group hit out at the council's actions to have the mural removed from the wall

The Monday Walking Group hit out at the council’s actions to have the mural removed from the wall 

Another chip shop in Greenwich - 'Jack the Chipper' - also faced complaints from customers who slammed the name for glorifying a serial killer

Another chip shop in Greenwich – ‘Jack the Chipper’ – also faced complaints from customers who slammed the name for glorifying a serial killer

Long-time Greenwich resident John said: ‘It’s just the typical woke council. If that was a Palestinian flag, would they have such strong objections? I doubt it.

‘This chippy has been around here for 20 years. This is the second time they’ve taken a mural down.’

Steve Cooper, 60, is a worker at nearby Lewisham College and has lived in Greenwich for 20 years. 

He said the mural ‘makes the area a much brighter place’, adding: ‘I think it’s lovely. What’s wrong with the Union Jack? Is that not the national flag? Are we not in Britain?

‘I use the chippy all the time. It’s excellent. The council wants to take that down but if you fly Palestinian flags in east London then it’s a different story.’

Chinese ex-pat Francis Cao, 23, lives in Greenwich and said she likes the mural because it gives Greenwich a new local landmark.

The shop assistant and university graduate moved to the area in September and said: ‘It’s nice because the shop is quite famous as one of the best. It’s a local icon. It gives the area a bit of character.

‘It’s quite fun. It also has the flag on it which is because it’s the national dish for Britain which is really cool.

‘It’s good branding. It gives the shop an identity and the area a local characteristic.

‘I don’t know why the council want to get rid of it. I feel that it just gives the area a good visual identity.’

The decision to remove the mural, which cost Cypriot-born owner Chris Kanizi £250, has angered locals who are demanding the council perform a U-turn, saying: ‘It’s a British flag. We are in Britain’. 

Locals have slammed ‘woke’ Greenwich Council’s decision following a number of complaints. It comes after residents boycotted nearby ‘Jack the Chipper’ after claims its name glorified a serial killer. The owner, Recep Turhan, has not budged.

Fellow businessman Mr Kanizi, 65, has vowed to fight the decision, and says he is ‘probably a lot more British than a lot of the people that don’t like it.’

Wearing a Union Flag pork pie hat outside of his shop on Monday, Mr Kanizi said: ‘This is home to me. I love it here. I’ve been here since I was 17. My kids’ birth certificates say they are English. I am British.

‘Tourists come here because it is authentic and they see it online. It’s British food!’

‘People come from all around to see us, from New Zealand and Canada and everywhere else. This gives them something to take a photo with.’

Cem, the son of owner Chris who commissioned the mural, thinks the mural makes tourists and locals smile and gives them something to photograph to remember their visit

Cem, the son of owner Chris who commissioned the mural, thinks the mural makes tourists and locals smile and gives them something to photograph to remember their visit

Chris Kanizi, 65, holds up fish in his award-winning restaurant in south-east London

Chris Kanizi, 65, holds up fish in his award-winning restaurant in south-east London

The artwork shows humanised sea creature holding a Union Jack alongside the phrase 'A Great British Meal'

The artwork shows humanised sea creature holding a Union Jack alongside the phrase ‘A Great British Meal’

However, on March 13 a council worker came in and spoke to Mr Kanizi’s son about the mural.

‘He said that we have to take it back to brick because we didn’t have planning permission to put up the mural,’ he continued.

‘But it was white for 18 years before that and they went on Google Maps to check so it’s allowed to remain how it was then.’

Council rules say if a planning change is not identified after seven years, then it can remain.

‘We told them we’d paint over it but we haven’t told them whether it will be next week or next years.’

Of the shop that he bought in 2002 and lives above, he said: ‘The shop is just very popular in the area. Lots of tourists come through. At this time of the year it’s around 30 per cent – but after April it’s 50-50.

‘The Trip Advisor reviews are so important to us. We got three more today.

‘The council should be spending the effort and money on the road out there – it’s disastrous. It’s been in a very bad state for two years and I live two-doors down.

‘Instead they put their efforts on this – something that puts a smile on people’s faces. This is a tourist area. When tourists see it, it’s like they’ve just won the lottery.

‘I’ve never been able to understand Greenwich Council. They’ll tell you what colours that you can paint your house. It’s madness.’

Mr Kanizi’s son Cem, 27, slammed Greenwich Council for the order.

Mr Kanizi in front of the 2016 sign which he took  down after the local council ordered it be removed

Mr Kanizi in front of the 2016 sign which he took  down after the local council ordered it be removed

Speaking ahead of his shift at the beloved local chippy, Cem said: ‘I don’t think it’s a good enough reason at all.’

Cem, who has worked alongside his dad for nine years, added: ‘They are making such a big deal out of it all. It gives people a smile on their face.

‘This isn’t the first time they’ve done anything like this too. We’ve been here 21 years and this is the second time they’ve taken issue with us.

‘I think it’s potentially because of the Union Jack.’

Of his father’s defiance, Cem said: ‘He should be. We get a lot of tourists coming here and this gives them something to take their picture with and have a smile and a laugh about.

‘It’s hypocritical for the council to go on about Greenwich being a tourist spot and going on about their maritime history but not let us capitalise on it.’

Chris Kanizi has been serving locals and tourists for 20 years at his fish shop

Chris Kanizi has been serving locals and tourists for 20 years at his fish shop

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Greenwich said: ‘You may have seen several headlines over the weekend about a business in Greenwich.

‘Whilst it’s not always appropriate to comment on individual cases, contrary to reports this has nothing to do with the Union Flag or any of the painting’s contents.

‘The advert has been painted, without any permission, in a conservation area, close to a World Heritage Site. The Council is acting according to Government planning laws, as it would with any unauthorised advert.

‘Any suggestions this is because of the Union Flag are disingenuous and untrue. The business owner is welcome to apply for advert consent in line with the conservation area he is in.’

Are YOU in a row with your council? Email katherine.lawton@mailonline.co.uk