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Senior South Holland councillors split over street art plan



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Senior councillors were split over plans to allow street art in South Holland - with several airing concerns over a new policy.

There were four votes in favour and four against the street art proposal at the district council’s cabinet on Tuesday - with deputy leader Nick Worth using his casting vote as chair of the meeting in support.

The idea for a policy came after the young people behind recent artwork in Spalding took a petition to councillors last year and asked for space to express themselves.

One of the environmental street art ideas presented to members of the Spalding Town Forum by Coun Paul Redgate. (55652140)
One of the environmental street art ideas presented to members of the Spalding Town Forum by Coun Paul Redgate. (55652140)

A task group of councillors - led by Paul Redgate - has developed a plan for how this can be done, but on Tuesday there were some dissenting voices among the cabinet.

Coun Christine Lawton was concerned it will encourage unwanted graffiti, adding: “Art is very subjective. It’s very difficult to control once the genie is out of the bottle.”

Coun Peter Coupland questioned what state art will be in after 12-18 months and what happens if the artists ‘disappear’ or lose interest.

He said: “If street art goes out of fashion are we left with all these fading murals in our town?”

Coun Rodney Grocock also worried that news of the policy may empower people to spray ‘here there and everywhere’ and said he did not understand street art, tags and graffiti. He was concerned that it might encourage people to deface the council’s assets.

One of the environmental street art ideas presented to members of the Spalding Town Forum by Coun Paul Redgate. (55652137)
One of the environmental street art ideas presented to members of the Spalding Town Forum by Coun Paul Redgate. (55652137)

Assistant director for leisure and culture Phil Perry told councillors that any work proposed in the conversation area or for listed buildings would need planning permission. He said the risk of graffiti exists anyway and that the cost and process of enforcing this would be the same regardless - but this provided a ‘better way forward’.

Coun Paul Redgate said: “This isn’t about giving street art free reign, it’s about controlling permission and making South Holland a far more vibrant and lively place.”

The new proposal states artists need to pitch their artwork themes and ideas to the council, get permission from them and the landowners and take ownership of protecting and maintaining their work.

Anyone who does not get approval will be deemed to have committed graffiti and the work will be removed.

The policy, which will be reviewed in six months, aims to cover all public art and not just spray can imagery, although proposed test pieces at the Castle Sports site in Spalding will be in this style.

Coun Gary Taylor said: “The world has moved on. We are responding to the public and it’s maybe time to allow these artists to express themselves in a positive manner.”

He said the policy could strike a balance and make clear that ‘ugly, offensive and racist’ graffiti tags were unwelcome.

Coun Roger Gambba Jones said the council was being a bit ‘shy’ about its initial locations.

He suggested the potential for a billboard on a triangle of land in Swan Street near Scooby Doos as a more prominent space for street art in the future.

A triangle of land off Swan Street, where Coun Roger Gambba-Jones suggested a billboard for street art. (56315456)
A triangle of land off Swan Street, where Coun Roger Gambba-Jones suggested a billboard for street art. (56315456)

He said: “At the moment it’s an embarrassment - it’s a blight on Spalding.”

Couns Worth, Taylor, Gambba-Jones and Liz Sneath voted for the policy, while Couns Anthony Casson, Grocock, Lawton and Coupland were against.



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