No end in sight on the town’s statue saga

Arnold Hatch among the turbines and statues that inhabit the council's Carn Depot.
Arnold Hatch among the turbines and statues that inhabit the council's Carn Depot.

The two giant sculptures and three wind turbines at the council’s Carn Depot, which have failed to move for years, face yet another long period of immobility.

The 12-foot-high, £62,000 sculptures - by renowned Donegal sculptor Maurice Harron - have lain dormant for two and a half years waiting to be installed in Lurgan and Portadown.

And the trio of turbines - which cost £160,000 in 2005 - have failed to move for at least as long at that. They were planned to save on power at the depot, but have failed to deliver.

The Harron statues were ordered in January 2009, and delivered in June the following year. The tenders were awarded a few weeks ago, with work due to start in Lurgan this month, followed by the Portadown contract. But they have been delayed until 2014.

Lurgan traders have asked the contractors to wait, pending the Christmas rush - and the Portadown part of the £177,000 contract cannot be fitted in, meantime, as NIE have to move subterranean electrical cables, with no firm date scheduled.

The Lurgan masterpiece mirrors that town’s linen history, while the Portadown statues reflect the area’s apple industry. The Lurgan site is in the town centre at the old YMCA site, formerly the town toilets. And Portadown’s statue has been earmarked for a site in West Street, adjacent to Northway.

As for the turbines, the council is mulling over whether they will, in fact, be repaired. It could cost up to £15,000 to do the job, in which case it would not be economic, with the returns not coming for 10 years.

However, if it works out at the bottom end of the scale, at £2,000-£5,000, the work may go ahead.

Said Alderman Arnold Hatch, “That one will require much deliberation, and I am not prepared to comment. But, as far as the statues are concerned, that one is unbelievable - how can they lie there for such a long time?”

He added, “There have been all sorts of problems. The delay was caused by a clumsy key action plan worked out by council officers - ‘development of location criteria; identification of potential locations; options appraisal; preferred options engineering and design; statutory approvals; and installations’, whatever all that means.

“Now, there are more delays - and this time it isn’t the council officers’ fault. But you wonder how such a simply task has been held up for so long. If the statutory bodies were in business, they wouldn’t last a week.

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