Suffolk scallop debate - have your say

THE East Anglian Daily Times is today giving readers the chance to have their say on the great Aldeburgh scallop debate.Readers can take part in a special referendum on whether Maggi Hambling's controversial steel sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten should stay where it is on Aldeburgh beach or be moved to another site.

THE East Anglian Daily Times is today giving readers the chance to have their say on the great Aldeburgh scallop debate.

Readers can take part in a special referendum on whether Maggi Hambling's controversial steel sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten should stay where it is on Aldeburgh beach or be moved to another site.

The EADT will be printing a ballot paper every day on which readers can register their views on the future of the sculpture.

Ballot boxes have been set up in Aldeburgh and Saxmundham for readers to cast their votes, while referendum papers can also be sent by post. The results will be presented to Aldeburgh Town Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Since it was unveiled in November of last year, the sculpture, in the shape of two giant scallop shells, has attracted armies of admirers and critics.

A body of opinion believed it should be moved elsewhere, and the row gained momentum when Aldeburgh town council backed a growing band of campaigners who argued it was the wrong site for the work.

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Thousands of people have visited the sculpture, which lies in front of a beach car park just north of the town, and the debate has hit the national headlines.

The row began when a petition was set up in Aldeburgh claiming the work spoilt the natural landscape and calling for it to be moved from its present site.

The petition, which attracted 878 names, was recently presented to Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Aldeburgh town council responded to the campaigners' concerns by deciding at a full council meeting earlier this month to approach Suffolk Coastal District Council, the landowners, to open a discussion about moving it.

Although the town council approved the planning application for the sculpture in June of last year, they decided that on hindsight it was sited in the wrong location.

The issue has divided opinion in the town and beyond.

Counter petitions were set up in response, attracting several hundred names.

Its admirers believe it fits in well with the natural landscape and say the town is lucky to have such an important and beautiful work of art. The site is near a car park, they argue, and many point out that the "unspoilt" coastline includes a view of two nuclear power plants - Sizewell A and Sizewell B. They also stress that it has been created by a local artist and local craftsmen.

Those against its present siting argue that whatever its merits, it was wrong to place it on a unique stretch of unspoilt shingle beach where rare wild plants grow.

Ms Hambling, of Rendham, near Saxmundham, has maintained throughout that she wants the sculpture to stay where it is, and that the work is about "a conversation with the sea".

"I don't want it to be moved," she said.

The sculptor and artist, a great fan of Benjamin Britten, wanted the work to be sited on the wild coastline which inspired him.

Suffolk Coastal District Council's Leader, Ray Herring, this week said that the council would seriously consider accepting proposals for moving the sculpture - if Aldeburgh Town Council can identify an alternative beach site which gains the approval of all the key parties.

But Suffolk Coastal has warned that while it will provide support from relevant staff, funds to meet all other costs associated with any proposed move must be found by the town council.

The sculpture was constructed locally by steel fabricators JT Pegg's of Aldeburgh, and their workmanship has been widely admired.

They recently set up their own petition in support of the sculpture.

The work was given to Suffolk Coastal by Ms Hambling and the Adnams Charity, which raised more than £56,000 in funding for the piece, much of it from local individuals and trusts.

HOW TO CAST YOUR VOTE

n IN PERSON

Place your completed ballot paper in one of the special EADT red polling boxes at Baggott's newsagents in High Street in Aldeburgh, Humphrey's newsagents in Market Place in Saxmundham or H G Crisp's in High Street in Saxmundham.

n BY MAIL

Send your completed ballot paper to EADT Aldeburgh Sculpture Referendum, EADT Newsdesk, East Anglian Daily Times, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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