COUNCIL planning officers should be thanked for proposing rejection of the scheme for a dummy helter skelter on the Breeds Place roundabout.
There might be merit in erecting a sculpture here which reflects on some of Hastings’ past recreational glories. Though did Hastings ever have a helter skelter to reflect upon?
There might be merit in erecting a sculpture of a very high design quality to create a new and interesting feature on the seafront. This could complement and enhance St Mary in the Castle and Pelham Crescent.
Unfortunately what is proposed is not of a very high design quality. It will appear as a cut down and incongruously inaccessible and unusable structure built in inappropriate and intrusive materials. And its appearance will not improve over the years as the combined forces of the sea and the council’s under-funded maintenance budgets get to work.
We would encourage councillors to follow the case officer’s recommendation and refuse the proposal.
There might perhaps be merit in erecting a properly useable helter skelter somewhere on the seafront to add to the tourist attractions.
If however the funds are intended for public sculpture – and the Fairlight Trust should be praised for its generosity in this matter – then the council should focus first on maintaining and restoring what already exists.
An obvious example would be the restoration of the fountain on the site – which of course is only in the condition it is due to council neglect over many years. Another possibility would be to re-erect, if not the whole memorial, at least the statue of Prince Albert, carelessly abandoned by the council in a shed in Alexandra Park, in a prominent town centre location.
Other neglected and deteriorating public sculpture includes the Lion and the Unicorn at Robertson Terrace, the drinking fountain outside Holy Trinity Church and the statue of Harold and Edith at West Marina.
All of these iconic structures hold genuine memories for local people and visitors and refurbishment of any would make a more authentic and attractive contribution to the visual regeneration of the town than what is now proposed.
Chairman, Hastings Urban Design Group