Leading Councillor hits back at claims he gives ‘full support’ for £200k elephant sculpture

A leading County Councillor has hit back at claims he gives his ‘full support’ to proposals for an ‘innovative wayfinding sculpture’ costing more than £200,000.

Colchester Council (CBC) have recently submitted plans to erect a giant steel elephant on the Albert roundabout in Cowdray Avenue Colchester as part of the ‘Fixing the Link’ project.

Proposals for the steel elephant sculpture would be part of the next phase of the project to transform the walking route from Colchester railway station to the town centre.

The cost of installing the elephant sculpture is reported to be £202,000 with contributions being made by Essex County Council (ECC) – £39,000, Greater Anglia – £10,000, Safer Colchester Partnership – £6,000 and Colchester Borough Council – £147,000.

More: Have your say on this planning application 

Cllr. Martin Goss (Lib), CBCs Portfolio Holder for Waste, Sustainability and Infrastructure, said in a recent statement: “In ‘Fixing the Link’ between Colchester Railway Station and the Town Centre, we can make it easier for people to find their way from the station and enjoy a more welcoming, interesting and attractive route which is less than one mile.”

The Mile End Councillor added: “This has full Colchester cross party support. It has the full support of Kevin Bentley and Essex County Council and Greater Anglia have also put some money in. Everybody is on board with this project,” as reported by the Daily Gazette.

Cllr. Kevin Bentley (Con), Cabinet member for Infrastructure at ECC hit back at the claims he was in “full support”. He said: “I was surprised to learn senior Colchester Borough Councillors believe I am in full support of this proposed elephant sculpture. I am not as it currently stands.

“Whilst discussions with officers of this authority have taken place, I have never expressed a view on the sculpture, nor have its detail ever been discussed with me.

“While I fully endorse public art, there is a time and place. Right now with difficult financial times facing local government we need to ensure our money is spent on services.

“ECC has contributed to the wider scheme of ‘Fixing the Link’ which is aimed at improving routes and directions for pedestrians and cyclists and to help tourism in the town. This is essential and helps with future sustainable transport.

“Colchester Council is leading this project and I would urge those councillors in charge to consider carefully how they use public funds to ensure maximum benefit.”

To date, the ‘Fixing the Link’ project has seen installation of a cast bronze 3D model showing the original Roman walls and gateways at Middleborough, corten steel wayfinding elephants at the Railway Station and High Street, yellow banners to highlight the route and show walking times, bronze plaques to highlight historical facts along the way, and new seating and public realm improvements at Middleborough.

The proposals are open to public comment until 7th January. A decision on the plans is due by the 8th February 2019.

How the proposed steel elephant on the Albert roundabout in Colchester may look