Extra costs to set up sculptures

AN architects firm has been awarded a £12,000 contract to decide where two giant steel sculptures will be put in Lurgan and Portadown as part of the public realm works.

Hamilton Architects have been awarded the contract by Craigavon Council to decide where the four-metre-high stainless steel sculptures should be placed. They will also prepare the designs to apply for planning permission and install them.

The art pieces, created by Donegal artist Maurice Harron, cost the council £62,000.

They were ordered more than two years ago during the town’s public realm work. The two sculptures were delivered last June and have been resting in the council’s depot at Carn ever since as reported in the ‘MAIL’ last year.

Alderman Arnold Hatch questioned whether it was necessary to pay out further expense to architects to decide where the sculptures are placed.

He said: “I’m surprised that there isn’t the expertise within the council to carry out this work in these tight economic times. But I have been assured by directors that this is the only way forward.”

According to council minutes the process to be carried out by architects would include development of location criteria, identification of potential locations, options appraisal, preferred options engineering and design, statutory approvals, and installations.

Alderman Hatch said: “It’s complicating what should be a relatively simple operation. But this is the way this council operates. The operation could take another few months, and it doesn’t instill much confidence for the ratepayers.

“In my view, a lot of these stages could have been done in-house, with the exception of the engineering and design aspects.”

The £62,000 for the provision of the art pieces was provided by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, but the £12,150 architectural fees will come out of the council budget.

A council spokeswoman said the appointment of a consultant architect was “simply a part of the process” of installing the sculptures. She said it was important the sculptures are installed in the “best possible location” and that “surrounding infrastructure can support them”.