A row has broken out between councillors over graffiti on traffic signs in Stroud.

The row broke out over the festive period when cllr Steve Dechan accused mayor Kevin Cranston of endorsing the Extinction Rebellion protest group, whose logo has appeared in some graffiti.

“It appears that the town council is endorsing the occupation, vandalism and direct action of some individuals,” cllr Steve Dechan said in an email to councillors.

“Complaints are mounting and the mayor’s Christmas message endorsed the leadership and vision of the group.”

Included in Mayor Cranston’s Christmas message was a reference to the group which he said was another example of Stroud leading the way.

“Stroud was at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement,” his message read. “At the time this was radical and controversial.

“John Wesley preached in the Shambles, when Non Conformists were denied the vote. Now religion plays no part in a person’s entitlements.

“Where Stroud leads the rest of society follows, initially reluctantly, eventually our radical ideas become the norm.”

“I wasn’t surprised that Extinction Rebellion started in Stroud, and I am pleased that the movement is spreading.

Protestors have been involved in a number of protests across the country, including stopping traffic and glueing themselves to government buildings in order ‘to minimise species extinction and avert climate breakdown’.

As part of the protests a car covered in slogans has appeared at a prominent position in the town, and the group’s logo has been graffitied in a number of locations.

But Mayor Cranston said that he had received no complaints about his Christmas message, and it was clear that he did not endorse vandalism.

“I stand by what I said, if you read it in the cold light of day there is nothing in it encouraging vandalism or defacement of road signs,” the mayor said.

“My support for the aims of ER is based on the urgency of addressing climate change.

“Male life expectancy in UK is about 80 years. On that basis I have about 14 years left only slightly more than the time remaining to start to reverse climate change if we are to prevent catastrophic damage to our fragile world.

“In that context, I regard who may or may not have sprayed some graffiti as so trivial as to be risible. I suggest that anyone who thinks otherwise needs to take a long hard look at their priorities.

“Meanwhile, I stand by my pride in Stroud being at the forefront of a campaign for the good of humanity.”

Katerina Hasapopoulos, one of the Extinction Rebellion organisers, said: “Extinction Rebellion (XR) has 10 principles and values and anyone following them can do actions in the name of XR so long as they follow them.

“One of them is that we are non-violent and another is that when we do civil disobedience we do it in full public view and take responsibility for it.

“In this case, my understanding is that we don’t know who did the graffiti and it would appear therefore to not follow our principles and values in terms of being out in the open. Therefore XR Stroud cannot take responsibility for it.

“Some people associated with XR in Stroud are happy about the graffiti and others less so - my personal opinion is that I am glad it is there.

“It is not, in my view, in any problematic locations and it expresses an upsurge in interest in THE most important issue that humankind has ever faced.

“The extinction symbol reminds us that we in the 6th mass species extinction event and there is a 1 in 20 chance of humans going extinct, in the lifetime of current generations.

“I would welcome people raising the alarm in whatever way they see fit. We are sleep walking into an apocalypse.”