The street artist Banksy is being encouraged by council officials to make one of his cloak-and-dagger visits to Salisbury to cheer up the barriers being set up around sites contaminated in the nerve agent attack.
Unsightly blockades are being set up in the city as the lengthy process of cleaning nine sites connected to the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, gets under way.
There is concern in Salisbury that images of the barriers being beamed around the world will put off visitors and some residents have asked if they can be made more colourful or be decorated with pictures.
Alistair Cunningham, chair of the recovery coordination group, said messages of welcome and signs giving directions would be put on them.
But he added: “We were joking about whether a #Banksy would appear on one of them and in due course become an attraction – so I put that message out there.”
The task of Banksy secretly creating a mural on a Salisbury barrier would be a challenge even to his ingenuity. Eighty police officers are in place guarding the cordons every day and the sites are watched intently by reporters, photographers, camera crews and residents.
But Salisbury is only 50 miles from Banksy’s home patch of Bristol and the nature of the attack could be a good subject for him. One of his most famous West Country murals of recent times is the so-called “Spy Booth” near the UK intelligence agency GCHQ in Cheltenham, which shows three spooks in raincoats apparently bugging a phone box.
The Guardian made Banksy’s people aware of Cunningham’s lighthearted suggestion and a spokesperson said the message would be passed on.