Council splashes out £2,000 to repair camel statue prompting criticism

October 30, 2013
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At a time of council cutbacks, Surrey Heath has agreed to spend £2,000 on renovating a statue of a camel.

The bronze statue of General Gordon has stood at Gordon’s School in West End since 1959 – it has now reached a stage where repairs cannot be postponed as this will cause greater damage.

Councillor Rodney Bates, who represents the Old Dean at the borough council, could not justify why the authority should spend £2,000 of public money on a camel statue when there was a “degree of local need and many living in serious poverty” in his ward.

He raised concerns about awarding the grant to The Gordon Foundation before it was passed at the council’s executive meeting on October 22.

Cllr Bates said: “I think there is quite a range of other areas where the money could be spent such as making sure the council tax does not go up next year.

“If the best we can do is to come up with a statue of a camel, then most of my residents are not going to be happy. In these tough economic times, we definitely have to question it.

“I am not knocking the community group and it is good that they want to renovate it but this is public money and Gordon’s is a fee-paying school with parents paying a lot of money for their children to go there.”

He stressed that there was an issue with access as the statue is only visible within the grounds of the school.

“The public can only see it by prior appointment or once a year at a heritage day event,” Cllr Bates said.

The Gordon Foundation will receive the funding as part of the council’s community grant fund, which gives up to £25,000 to assist not- for-profit organisations with the delivery of community projects.

The statue was made in 1902 and the school itself is a national memorial to General Gordon.

The plan is to protect the statue from the worst of the winter weather and then start the renovation and repair work as soon as possible next year. The total cost of the project is expected to be around £25,000.

The work will involve the renovation and conservation of the statue itself and the repair and replacement where necessary of the stone plinth and masonry.

The project is said to benefit the Gordon School community, Gordonians of the past, primary schools in the area, the West End and Bisley community and those interested in Victorian heritage.

According to the council, the project met its corporate objective to “make Surrey Heath an even better place where people are happy to live” and to “work in partnership with local organisations to provide support to the community and diverse open space and recreation facilities”.

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/council-splashes-out-2000-repair-6256516


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