Fresh row over controversial sculpture

By Sarah ChambersA COUNCIL leader has insisted he has been "entirely consistent and open" after coming under renewed criticism from a campaign group about a controversial scallop shell sculpture.

By Sarah Chambers

A COUNCIL leader has insisted he has been "entirely consistent and open" after coming under renewed criticism from a campaign group about a controversial scallop shell sculpture.

A war of words over Scallop, the Aldeburgh sculpture that artist Maggi Hambling made in tribute to composer Benjamin Britten, has erupted again after Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, wrote to a resident about the issue.

The Voices of the People campaign group, which is calling for the sculpture to be moved from Aldeburgh beach, seized upon a remark made in the letter from Mr Herring.


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In the letter, he explained the circumstances in which the sculpture could be moved, according to the terms of the agreement the council entered into with the artist and Adnams Charity.

"The document does prevent the sculpture's removal, except on public safety grounds or in exceptional circumstances," said Mr Herring.

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But Voices of the People claimed Mr Herring had promised that the siting of Scallop was "an Aldeburgh decision, not one imposed by Suffolk Coastal District Council".

David Gordon, campaign group chairman, called for a meeting of "all interested parties" to explore how the dispute could be resolved and said if Mr Herring was not prepared to do that, he should resign.

Mr Herring said he had stated in January 2004 that if an alternative beach site that was acceptable to all concerned could be found, then legally the final decision would rest with Suffolk Coastal District Council as planning authority and landowner.

"That was true then and it is still the case - if an alternative beach site was found, it is this council that would have to approve it or not, but it would only happen if it was acceptable to all concerned," he added.

It was now nearly two years since the planning committee had considered the application, taking into account both views, and a democratic decision was reached.

"Mr Gordon seems unable to accept a democratically reached decision - this council spent the early part of 2004 trying to find an acceptable solution, but was unsuccessful.

"Mr Gordon must appreciate by now that the sculpture would only move if an alternative site acceptable to all, not just his pressure group, was found."

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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