THERE’S a serious side to the allegations made this week that a Pembroke Dock town councillor is supposedly the graffiti artist Banksy.
On May 23, William Gannon, who was elected to the town’s Bufferland Ward at the recent May elections, sensationally quit the council.
Mr Gannon, 58, said he was forced to stand down because the bizarre allegation was undermining his ability to work as a councillor.
While it might raise an eyebrow or even a slight smile that a councillor in Pembrokeshire is being laid as the covert graffitier known for his anti-establishment message, there is a serious side to the situation.
Mr Gannon's resignation has left a town council looking to attract much-needed investment in one of the major port towns of Pembrokeshire in chaos.
Western Telegraph spoke to council clerk Sarah Scourfield about the allegation that she could have been working with a world-famous artist.
Ms Scourfield explained that pushing people out in this way will not help an already threadbare council.
“It is a struggle because we have six vacancies and we are trying to recruit members of the public to come onto the council and represent their community and wards,” said Ms Scourfield.
“But with things like this going on it will not give members of the community the will to want to come aboard, so it puts us in a position where the town does not have the right representation.”
When the Western Telegraph spoke to Mr Gannon about the allegations he said these types of events will only make it harder for the area to attract investment.
In the Autumn Budget announced in October 2021, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishu Sunak announced over £40billion of ‘levelling-up’ fund would be made available to try balance the playing field between London and the rest of the UK.
Haverfordwest and Pembroke both secured multi-million pound investment packages, however Pembroke Dock got nothing.
Mr Gannon said the town's reputation is damaged.
“We are struggling to attract investment in Pembroke Dock because of this nonsense,” said Mr Gannon. “There has been a lot of controversy in the town that has damaged its reputation.”
The chaos caused by the allegation is already hitting the heart of the community.
Pembroke Dock and Pembroke Citizens Forum administrator Marcel Laval said an already struggling community is endeavouring to fight on.
“I am sickened to have to inform the people of Pembroke Dock yet again one of your local councillors has decided to resign rather than bring any further disruption to the work of Pembroke Dock Town Council and to their family life.
“We will try our best to continue to provide a positive community page free from those who would do harm to our members and the community.”
Why was William Gannon accused of being Banksy?
Mr Gannon was formerly a graffiti artist.
He confirmed that he has adorned walls from London to Glasgow with artwork in a 20-year graffitiing career.
Mr Gannon even admitted that he may have crossed paths with Banksy.
“What I can say is that I was a part of the graffiti street art scene before it became popular,” said Mr Gannon.
“I may have crossed paths with Banksy in the past, but I would not have known because no one knows who he, she or they are."
Ms Scourfield described Mr Gannon as a hard-working member of the council with valuable links to the Milford Haven Port Authority who was an asset to the area.
"Billy was a very active councillor for Pembroke Dock and at the end of the day it was a shame he had to resign," he said.
At the end of this sorry tale is a man who seems frustrated in his efforts, which on the face of it seem noble enough.
“I am approaching my 60s now and I wanted to put my artwork behind me," said Mr Gannon. "The idea was to come to a nice quiet town and live the dream.
“Pembroke gives me peace, quiet, tranquillity, so I wanted to give something back.”