Time to move on from comment

IN last Sunday’s Guardian, I was quoted as saying the area surrounding the Hastings roundabout was ‘garbage’.

It’s the kind of word one uses in conversation, and does not expect to be quoted. The point I was making was that it was absurd for the planning authorities to suggest that the location has some sort of aesthetic merit which the proposed sculpture would offend, but I shouldn’t have used that word, and I apologise for it.

I do, however, stand by all my other assertions related to the unfortunate outcome of the project. The town authorities welcomed our proposal with open arms. We assembled a highly qualified panel to judge the submissions. We went out of our way to inform local residents of the two finalist proposals and took their feedback seriously.

It goes without saying that no sculpture would have appealed to everyone in the town, and that some opposition was to be expected. We spent more than a year and thousands of pounds discussing the technicalities of the project with the highways department, planning authorities, and other government departments.

At no point was there even the slightest suggestion that planning permission would be denied. If there were serious reservations by town authorities at any point they could have approached us to try to work out a solution in a civil and respectful manner.

Instead the town authorities performed an 11th-hour hoodwink which deprived the supporters of the project the basic right of retorting the claims of the planning department. If this approach had been adopted by all local authorities there would be no public art in this country, and it would be the worse off for it, surely most would agree.

Anyway, the thing is done, and at least we can say that it stimulated all sorts of conversation and debate in the town, and at some level that’s a good thing. I myself don’t want to use up any more energy being upset about it, and perhaps I might respectfully suggest that we all just move on.


The Fairlight Arts Trust