It’s obscene, but we haven’t been heard

I attended the North Devon District Council planning committee meeting on September 5.

In the time allowed, I made a strenuous attack on the proposal to erect Damien Hirst’s statue on Ilfracombe Quay, on the grounds that it is obscene and will deter many holidaymakers from coming to Ilfracombe.

Several women in the audience agreed that the statue is obscene, as did three female North Devon councillors, with one adding she will not take visitors to see it. Two of them voted against, the other for, “as that is what Ilfracombe Council wants us to do”.

An Ilfracombe town councillor who earlier had voted against the statue said it is obscene, and this view was backed up by other male speakers.

One of the male North Devon councillors even read out a list of comments he had received – all words you can find in a thesaurus under “obscene”.

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Several people suggested that, rather than bringing in visitors, it will deter families (who surely are a large part of our holiday influx).

It was admitted by some councillors that it is the older generation most offended by the statue. (Yet older visitors provide a large proportion of Ilfracombe’s visitors.)

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In spite of all this adverse criticism, the council voted to allow the statue to be erected.

One of the council officials told the council they couldn’t take the issue of indecency into consideration.

I cannot believe that to be true, and have requested that the leader of the council, Brian Greenslade, investigate this claim with some urgency in view of the fact the statue could be erected on October 17.

Despite the decision, the fight isn’t over, and will continue until the people of Ilfracombe are allowed to register their decision in a democratic referendum.

Tony Olsson


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