A CONTROVERSIAL circus has slammed the removal of its posters from around Chelmsford.

The Great British Circus, which features animals in its shows, is performing on private land until October 17 at Essex Regiment Way, just outside Chelmsford.

Organisers have been angered by an anonymous person, who took down the posters and took them to Chelmsford Council’s offices.

They were accompanied by a note claiming to be from “a public spirited citizen, doing the council a favour” by removing the posters.

Chris Barltrop, spokesman for the circus which began on Tuesday, said the circus had notified the council, under the planning laws, where it would be putting the posters and there was nothing illegal in what it had done.

He said: “This is simply to do with the placing of the adverts and not with the circus itself. Everyone may have an opinion on the issue of animals in the circus as they do with any other matter.

“But whoever did this was too cowardly to give their name. It is taking the law into their own hands. We have acted responsibly. The issue of performing animals is a separate one.”

Mr Barltrop said “a high percentage the posters” had been removed, but had now been returned to the circus.

They would be put back up and taken down once the circus had finished. Laura Ketley, spokesman for Chelmsford Council, confirmed the posters had been dumped at the council’s office.

She said they had been put up legally and the council would not have removed them.

She added: “A large package was received at the Civic Centre containing approximately 34 circus advert boards, a CD containing photographic evidence of where they were displayed, and an anonymous note saying they were illegal.

“While the council does licence many animal welfare establishments, performing animals falls to Essex County Council and not us.

“Chelmsford Council has a policy of not hiring out its own land for circuses and therefore is has no jurisdiction or control over this activity.”

The circus hit the headlines last year after secret footage revealed elephants at the show being beaten with sticks. The elephants are no longer with the circus.

Animal charity the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) has already called on the public to boycott the circus.