Ian Buckland made the comments during the virtual full council meeting of Littlehampton Town Council on Thursday.
It was the first opportunity many councillors had to react officially to the murals since their installation in October, which has drawn widespread criticism from the public for the quality of the vinyl stickers – one of which has already become damaged, allegedly by vandalism – and the £14,000 price tag.
Mr Buckland, who represents River ward, said: “I think it is one of the biggest mishaps that the town council has ever done.”
Councillor Michelle Molloy asked for them to be removed, saying they ‘created a bad atmosphere in the town’ and were generating bad press.
But James Walsh, chairman of the policy and finance committee who played a part in signing off the designs, said that ‘although we are all unhappy with it in different ways’ they had generated debate and should stay so people can see them in person and make up their own ‘Marmite minds’.
Committee member Billy Blanchard-Cooper apologised for his part in the decision and councillors Mike Northeast and Jo Price both called for a refund, saying the designs were not fit for purpose if they were lifting already.
In response, the town clerk said all councillors would be given an ‘audit trail’ of how the mural came into being and he would write to the supplier to ask what previous works had been installed on cobbles following concerns this was why they were lifting.
The murals came from a Government grant for events that could support the High Street. Emily Seex urged the council to postpone further plans – such as murals on the derelict Waitrose building and an augmented reality app – until the pandemic had passed and the money could be better spent.
Dr Walsh urged councillors to put forward their suggestions at the next policy and finance committee meeting in December, when decisions would be made about the next steps of the scheme.
Ending the discussion on a lighter note, Dr Walsh asked ‘anyone who had a hotline to Banksy’ to ask him to do a piece in the town centre, ‘as nothing would succeed like that would’.