Council says the Scallop must stay

SCALLOP – a beach sculpture that has split opinions in a Suffolk town – will not be moved, council bosses have decided.Suffolk Coastal District Council announced yesterdayit would not be taking part in any discussions about moving Maggi Hambling's steel sculpture on Aldeburgh beach.

SCALLOP – a beach sculpture that has split opinions in a Suffolk town – will not be moved, council bosses have decided.

Suffolk Coastal District Council announced yesterdayit would not be taking part in any discussions about moving Maggi Hambling's steel sculpture on Aldeburgh beach.

Campaigners, who held a public meeting on Tuesday, hoped to resurrect the debate and see the work, a tribute to the composer Benjamin Britten, moved to a "more suitable" location.

The 12ft-high steel sculpture has sparked fierce argument in the town and beyond since being unveiled in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) last November.


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Now, the council, which held a review of Scallop's location earlier this year, has moved to draw a line under the matter.

Ray Herring, council leader, said there was little hope of reaching a consensus between supporters and opponents of the sculpture on the current site.

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"We will not move Scallop without such a consensus, and we do not want to hold out false hope to the objectors that we think it is achievable," he said.

Last night, David Gordon, chairman of The Voices of the People committee, which wants to see the sculpture moved, attacked the decision.

"My immediate response is that it is a great shame that the elected representatives of the people are not interested in listening to the very clear opinion of Aldeburgh people expressed at the meeting the other night," he said.

"I didn't expect this and I thought Mr Herring was prepared to meet us. We are determined to continue with the debate."

Mr Herring said: "The problem is that this is all a matter of opinion. There is no question that many people feel very strongly that the sculpture spoils this part of the beach.

"However, we know that many others feel equally passionately that the work enhances this special landscape. There is not much chance of reconciling those two positions.

"The issues relating to the special nature of the site were all presented to the planning committee (in July 2003). Correspondence for and against was taken into consideration. The planning committee made its decision fairly and with full knowledge of the issues."

Since the structure was installed, Aldeburgh Town Council, which originally raised no objection to the current site, now believes it should be moved and objectors to the sculpture on the current site formed the campaign group.

More than 260 people gathered at the town's Jubilee Hall on Tuesday and urged Suffolk Coastal to accept that the current siting of the sculpture was wrong, to establish a working group to consider alternative sites and to agree a process of public consultation to approve any such alternative.

Mr Herring added: "If the objectors want to pursue this themselves, then fine. The council has already spent a great deal of time on this issue, and while we will continue to respond to reasonable requests for information and access to relevant officers, we will not take an active part in prolonging the debate.

"That is clearly not the answer that the campaign group wants to hear, and I apologise for that, but it reflects our belief that there is not realistic prospect of reaching a consensus between supporters and opponents of the current site."

Scallop was given to the district council, which owns the land, by the artist and the Adnams Charity, which raised over £56,000 in funding.

Suffolk Coastal decided not to move the sculpture following a review earlier this year. An EADT poll resulted in an overwhelming victory for those wanting to see Scallop stay where it is.

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