READING'S very own Banksy mural has been given better protection after it was defaced by the name of another street artist.

Back in March, residents were concerned over the future of the mural on the wall of Reading Prison after no protection was given to it.

Reading Borough Council, which wants to buy the building and convert it into an arts and cultural centre, said at the time that the Ministry of Justice should “make suitable arrangements to protect the image”.

The government department didn't reveal whether it is planning to protect the mural or remove it.

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Yesterday, however, a glass screen covering was seen being fitted over the Banksy mural.

The Save Reading Gaol campaign tweeted a picture of the mural depicting Oscar Wilde given glass screen barrier.

They said: "Still trying to prevent escape... Rolling on the floor laughing. Glad to see some sturdy protection over the #Banksy #GraffitiArt at last. Here's hoping in the long run he will end up in safe hands... Crossed fingers."

It is a criminal offence to demolish, rebuild or make other significant changes to listed properties without written permission from the council.

The main prison building, which once held playwright Oscar Wilde, is Grade II listed but the wall outside is not.

Last year, the MOJ rejected a Reading Borough Council bid to buy the prison, which has not housed any inmates since 2013.

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The council says it will submit another bid on March 15 but details of that bid “remain commercially confidential at this time”.

Cllr Jason Brock, leader of the council, said back in March: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver a unique culture and heritage hub for Reading.

“We firmly believe a successful bid by the council would be a game changer.

“A catalyst for further investment in Reading, a key driver in our recovery from Covid and the creation of a site of local, regional and national significance in the heart of our town and in our historic Abbey Quarter.”