Friday, April 20, 2007

Poles Telegraphed across London

Let's hope that the totem poles aren't simply a farewell present to MPs Brake & Burstow and carved in their vision. Anyway, the Evening Standard read this blog and did an excellent job in finding out a little more about the project. Since the £600,000 bus stop was getting a little old hat, it's nice to have another permanent fixture reminding us of the spending habits of this Council.

Totem poles in, parks police out

A Council is to spend an estimated £20,000 erecting two giant totem poles in public parks. Sutton council has been granted planning permission to put up the 18ft carved oak sculptures, which it says are intended to make “a notable visual impact”. It comes as the Liberal Democrat-controlled council has disbanded its parks police service, leading to accusations that the totem poles are a waste of money and will encourage vandalism.

Councillor Paul Scully, leader of council’s Conservative Opposition group, said: “It’s an absolute waste of money These things are going to cost tens of thousands of pounds which could be put to a much better use.”

“We applaud the project to improve our open spaces, but why on earth do we need to top it off with these pieces of abstract art? It’s laying down a challenge to the anti-social element of society like a red rag to a bull.” The totem poles are part of a £490,000-scheme to improve open spaces across Sutton, including footpaths and play facilities such as a skateboarding park for teenagers.

The poles will be made by Sussex sculptor Walter Bailey, who has sold 11 similar pieces to Surrey County Council for £75,000. One will be located on the highest part of St Holier Open Space, next to a path and visible from St Helier Hospital. The other will be on Middleton Open Space so that it can be seen by passing drivers and pedestrians. It is intended to “balance” with neighbouring mature oak trees. Until this month, eight police officers in 4x4s patrolled parks across Sutton to deter vandals and prevent anti-social behaviour.

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