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Charlton artist - 'Greenwich Council said my Buddhist statue was rubbish'
10:50am Tuesday 20th August 2013 in News
A CHARLTON artist says he was left shocked after being told the Buddhist statue outside his home was "rubbish" that needed to be removed.
Dr Dunstan Perera, 75, claimed Greenwich Council's tenancy enforcement note followed on from housing officers telling him his vast collection of books should be thrown in a skip.
The painter and film maker - whose 3ft statue stands on the shared balcony outside his St Paul's Close flat - says the demands have been made over the course of a year and caused him great distress.
He said: "The very thought of throwing it all into a skip was something beyond my imagination.
"These people referred to the statue as rubbish.
"I got mad because anything to do with my culture, my religious beliefs and all the rest of it is sacred."
Dr Perera, who is qualified in alternative medicine, now says the ordeal is affecting his mental and physical health.
He said: "There came a point when I could not sleep because I was scared they'd break the door down and remove my books.
"As an artist my books are very, very important to me.
"I'm sure I'm not the only one the council treats this way.
"When they get a knife inside of you they keep in twisting it.
"It's like a little boy removing the legs of a spider."
The artist, whose varied career has included everything from making films for Channel 4 to fundraising exhibitions at Woolwich town hall, says friends of his have written to the council asking that he be left alone.
He added: "I've said enough is enough.
"To quote Edmund Burke, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Greenwich Council claims the "rubbish" comment referred to two bags outside the property rather than the statue.
A spokesman said: “The Royal Borough would like to reassure Dr Perera that any concerns raised about the storage or build-up of items in or around his home are made purely with his safety, and the safety of his neighbours in mind.
“It has never been our intention to cause distress to Dr Perera but we do have a duty to ensure that all tenants are able to evacuate their properties as quickly and safely as possible in the event of an emergency.
“These policies reflect the advice and standards of the fire brigade and are also essential to ensure that emergency services staff can access properties as quickly and effectively as possible.”
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