Posters carrying the slogan "it's okay to be white" were spotted outside two colleges and on lampposts of a major road in Basingstoke.

The posters, reportedly put up by neo-Nazi sympathisers, on lampposts on Cliddesden Road near Queen Mary's College and near Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) on Worting Road were torn down by residents who were shocked and upset to see them.

Police also said the posters were found in New Road.

The incident has been reported to the Hampshire Constabulary, which confirmed that an inquiry has been launched.

"It's okay to be white" (IOTBW) is an alt-right slogan started in the United States based on an organised trolling campaign supported by white supremacists, including neo-Nazis.

This is not the first time IOTBW posters have been displayed in the UK.

In July last year, similar posters were displayed at the entrance of a shopping centre in Somerset.

Reacting to the Basingstoke posters which were put up on Tuesday night, Priya Brown, a local resident, said the fact that they were put up near schools and colleges was quite worrying.

“These posters were on school routes and a lot of people including kids have seen them,” said Priya, who was also a Women’s Equality Party candidate for Eastrop and Grove in the last elections.

“My friend, who was walking the dog at around 7.30am, alerted me about it. This wasn’t nice and it was on every single lamppost on Cliddesden Road."

Priya immediately contacted the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, who advised her to contact the Highways Agency because the posters were on street-lighting.

“I spoke to the agency, and they said they would remove it as soon as possible. They told me that they would prioritise it because it’s a hate crime message. At least it appears it that way because it sprung up overnight,” she added.

“There were a couple of residents who were quite upset about it. They removed some of these posters. My friend’s husband also took down as many posters as possible.”

Priya has also reported the incident to the police.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “We can confirm we have been made aware of this incident and are making enquiries.”

Basingstoke Gazette: The poster spotted in Cliddesden Road in BasingstokeThe poster spotted in Cliddesden Road in Basingstoke

Priya said it’s upsetting to see the attempt to divide the multicultural and diverse community in Basingstoke.

“Of course, it’s okay to be white. No one is saying it isn’t. But it is also okay to be anyone else, anything else, and to be you,” she told the Gazette.

“We have worked so hard to promote the rich cultural history that we have. Basingstoke was an overflow town. When we had a lot of people moving into the area they came from all walks of life. My parents came over as part of the NHS drive to recruit in the 70s. Having lived here all my life, it hurts when you see messages like that.

“We have fantastic organisations like the Cultural Diversity Consortium, Basingstoke United Against Racism and Interfaith Community. We are working so hard to stamp out racism. We don’t want to have anyone being marginalised because of their background.

“It’s when you start to divide like this, it’s worrying. At a time when we are celebrating Remembrance Day, Diwali, Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day, this attempt is an insult.”

Priya also expressed her concern about a neo-Nazi group operating in Basingstoke.

“This has cropped up before in Somerset, which was carried out by neo-Nazi group. My concern is whether something like that is going on here in Basingstoke. We should bring these perpetrators to justice. It’s about opening up and having these conversations.”