£50k seating area artwork defended

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£50k seating area artwork defended

The final unveiling of the new canopied seating area at Badbury Heights, Blandford, commissioned as a public artwork which tells the history of Blandford, prompted quite an outcry on social media on why over £50,000 had been spent on a bench when the money could have been used for many other purposes.

Councillor Pat Osborne, who chairs the town council’s public art group, said: “The money for the bench was money from the developers Persimmon specifically for ‘public art’. It would have gone back to Persimmon if it hadn’t been spent. There was an extensive public consultation on what it should be spent on and where it should go. A decorative bench was one of the few ideas to fit the bill of being ‘public art’ while also being of some practical use.”

He said the costs had been fully disclosed in the public domain throughout the planning process and the public art consultation, through which the site had been chosen.

“Personally, I’d have preferred to have spent the money on something else – it was not a non-trivial amount – but we weren’t legally allowed to. That’s why councillors were keen to ensure that the installation could be used by residents for practical purposes as well as being aesthetic.”

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