Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sutton Council Just Don't Get It - Part 1

From the Council which gave you £25k totem poles sited opposite a cash-strapped hospital, comes the latest wheeze in how to spray taxpayers' money around on 'art'.

The wooden menagerie pictured opposite has been concreted into the pavement on Sutton High Street where there was previously an open space. The metal globe sculpture has been relocated so that people avoiding the wooden fish to go to All Bar One and the Civic Office crash straight into it.

Lest we forget within the apparent benefits for this £3million splurge of your cash was the statement "Wider footways, better road crossings and less clutter will create a people-friendly zone."

I'm not sure that mocking laughter was the reaction first envisaged by the Lib Dem Council cabinet who approved this project, but that is what appears to be the first reaction of those walking by.

We are still waiting for the 'green wall' to be installed on the face of Wilkinsons, which involves a lawn to be laid vertically up the front of the shop. When challenged over such expenditure, the Lib Dem administration claim that the £3million would have just be spent in another borough. That's just not good enough. Whilst we all reevaluate the services that we receive and our own personal incomes as a result of the massive deficit created over the last few years, it is not acceptable for councillors to spend such amounts on needless projects. How many wooden fish will it take to fill one of the many empty shops on the High Street? How will a grass curtain on the front of one of the busier shops on the High Street help the hot dog seller that is being thrown off the pitch that she has held for the last 15 years? The north end of the High Street will remain largely a ghost town, with the lion's share of the investment within yards of the Civic Offices. It is a case of out of sight, out of mind for the councillors that have been embolden by their win at the last election leaving them another four years to rack up the bills for Sutton's taxpayers.

Leaving on a largely positive note, I am glad that another one of the Conservative manifesto commitments was adopted by siting recycling bins next to normal bins along the High Street. It's just a shame that the brushed metal used makes them look a decade old already.


Anonymous said...

It's not art. They're "play seats" and they have names:

Unknown said...

So I understand. Ninja the duck; Nemo the dolphin; Sephi the cat; Sparkles the swan; Olivia the pony; Terri the snail; Sonic the frog; Charlie the chicken; Mieow the cat; Sona the fish; Tommy the horse and Freddie the duck.

The press release also tells us that they were put in after we were extensively consulted!

Anonymous said...

What baffles me is the split personality of this project. On the one hand much of the street furniture is austere and minimalist, like those "baked bean tin" bins, the rectilinear street lights and the cycle stands. At the opposite end of the scale the rest is unbelievably twee: log bench seating, the animal "play seats" and the proposed green wall.

It strikes me very much as a design by committee job and as you say, a rush to spend a large amount of cash whether it makes sense or not.

It would be far preferable for money for these kinds of projects to be available in relatively small amounts more often so that urban design can evolve thoughtfully rather than in occasional large upheavals. The chapter on "Gradual money and cataclysmic money" in Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities is well worth a read and despite being a set text for just about every built environment course, tends to be cited far more than it's heeded.

As for the manky bins, the first rule of urban design is don't put in anything that's going to look dreadful after a bit of wear and tear. There's the same problem with the light-coloured paving. I'm sure they look wonderful on the architects' renderings and on day one but they've gone rapidly downhill from there.

It reminds me of Richard Meier's City Hall and Library in The Hague. The council spent a packet commissioning a pristine white building with no guttering and now spends even more cleaning the thing every five minutes ever after.

Doesn't anyone have the sense to say, "That won't wear well"?

Unknown said...


Thanks for the links. Fascinating that a 1961 text still cuts through the modern rush to spend before thinking.

You're right about the split-personality approach to the project. The High Street as a whole is split in two although the top end is starting to look as tired and shabby as the bottom.

My daughter remarked that the old bricks look newer than their replacements.

Unknown said...

Looking back at Terri the snail, it looks like one uncomfortable play seat.

Jason Hughes said...

I have had the pleasure of looking at this stuff first hand and I can assure all of your blog's readers that it really is a crock of shit.

I should be VERY interested to know how much of my council tax payers' money went on this crap.

David B, CB said...

I despair. I truly, really despair.

How long will these last, situated between two busy drinking establishments?

I thought I was hallucinogenically drunk when I first saw them, then I realised this was on my way TO the pub, not leaving.

If they're not stolen, they'll simply be burned.

This is the work of a true idiot. Whoever you are, stand up and take the credit!

Or are you too busy creating that vertical lawn?

David B, CB said...

£750 each.

It just gets worse.

How could each of these possibly have cost £750?

Norman Scruttock said...

Lol! It seems you don't have to be gay to be part of the modern Conservative party - but it sure helps!

Asian Delight said...

Shut it Pickles. Don't want your vitriol here.

I think Lilly Allen was thinking of people like you when she wrote this song...

Viv said...

Congratulations on being voted #17 in top conservative blogs. Well deserved! Thank you for your continued public spirited work.

On the subject of the wooden animals and log benches I am outraged at the waste of money and puzzled at the lack of information on the council's website. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place there. I would like to know when they will install proper seating, in particular for elderly people who find the long trawl up Sutton High Street difficult at present without anywhere to stop for a rest. I am sure they will not enjoy sitting on the very low log seats. Is Sutton Council discriminating against the elderly, do you think?

Norman Scruttock said...

What a great shame that the "Conservatives" had to suck up to the "Liberals" to form a government, and yet in Sutton they are supposedly bitter enemies! Or not - notice how they have moved themselves into positions of financial gain at the drop of a hat. Shysters, renegades and hypocrites one and all. Oh and "Angel Delight" - you appear to have the wrong person.

Unknown said...


Seriously, what are you banging on about?

'sucking up' is compromising to get the important things done.

No-one's a 'bitter enemy'; life's too short to be so tribalistic. The LibDems locally don't understand what is required to get the Council on a level financial footing. Instead they splash money around like it's going out of fashion.

Who's moved into positions of financial gains?

A little more informed discussion will help us get the Borough that we want rather than sidelining yourself to settle old scores. Maybe you can afford to live with such a high-spending council. I can't. I'll continue to hold the LibDem administration to account and work to see a Conservative Council which will see real change for the better here in Sutton.

Josef Heiter said...

Hello Norman (if zat is your veal name!),

It is clear you're either former councillor David Pickles (Emphasis on "former"; who is too busy looking for a job I gather) or that fricking looney tune David Jeffreys, who is known to the Police, I gather, and is also well-known for vandalising political posters during the election. So much so that even the firmly bonkers UKIP local contingent had to isolate him.

If so, I should like to politely inform you that you're a mentalist. And a bitter one at that.

Even a cursory glance at your frankly bizarre posts show you're fucking crazy and overdue a good old fashioned sectioning.

So, keep taking the pills and dick off Scully's Blog and let some sane people discuss local politics.

Asian Delight said...

Has anyone ever told you that you're bonkers Pickles?

It is plainly obvious that you write under the name Norman. I presume you were trying to spell Normal. No matter what they told you at school (cretin asylum)- writing a word over and over might make believe you are normal but take it from me - you are far from it!

David B, CB said...

Hi Paul

What happened to ‘Sutton Council Just Don’t Get It – Part 2’?

I do hope it involves the fun surrounding the already-failing Life Centre.

A simple dip back through your blog to early 2009 means you have every right to say ‘I told you so’ – given the truly amateur and, frankly, incompetent business plan, I think there are possibly grounds for a charge of misfeasance in public office.

Bring it on...

David B, CB said...

Rather strange that this story in the Sutton Guardian, which has comments criticising the newspaper’s sponsorship of the council’s launch event, has disappeared from the main website:

Has our local paper gotten so into bed with the LibDems than no criticism will be tolerated? Shameful!

Anonymous said...


john problem said...

'The problem with the ordinary people is that they don't know what's good for them and they certainly don't understand high art. It would be much easier if we exported them all to somewhere foreign. Then we wouldn't have to be bothered by their ghastly low brow opinions.'