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Verity lease given approval by North Devon Council

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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NORTH Devon Council last week accepted Damien Hirst's offer of a 60ft bronze statue and approved the lease of a site on Ilfracombe pier for it to be located.

Councillors unanimously agreed to accept the statue, named Verity, at an Executive meeting on Thursday, September 6.

The decision came the day after the council approved the planning application for the statue, which could be hoisted into place on October 17/18.

The purpose of Thursday's meeting was to discuss the implications to the council of accepting the loan, including arrangements for the erection of the statue as well as costs to the council.

A 20-year lease of the site at Ilfracombe pier was approved with an option to extend this should it be required.

To accommodate the statue a plinth will be required consisting of a concrete pad.

The pier car park will be temporarily closed to allow for delivery, assembly and erection of Verity.

The maintenance of the plinth will then fall to the council. It will cost an estimated £1,000 a year.

In terms of further revenue costs, insurance was estimated at £5,000 a year with security and lighting estimated at £1,400 a year in total.

Ellen Vernon, economic development manager, said Damien Hirst's team would be covering the initial cost of lighting and would be providing a CCTV camera.

The council will be in charge of providing five warning signs which it is estimated will cost around £4,350 as well as transport signage which was given a vague cost of between £5 and £10,000.

In terms of parking, a pre-meeting report estimated that Verity would increase the council's income from car parks as a result of increased visitor numbers.

Devon County Council is currently undertaking a transport masterplan for Ilfracombe which takes into account Verity and will give thought to the best use of car parks in the area.

Concerns have been raised since the application was submitted that North Devon Council would be footing the bill for the statue once it was erected, but councillors were adamant that the costs were minimal.

Councillor Mike Edmunds said: "I welcome this planning decision.

"It is important that the costs come out because one of the questions raised was that this council was going to fund an awful lot of money which is not the case.

"We have the opportunity now to accept a very worthwhile addition to the town. It will benefit the people of North Devon as a whole."

But councillor Rodney Cann stated that Verity has caused a divide in opinion, saying: "The truth is it is splitting the community. People either love it or hate it.

"It will achieve its object of attracting attention to Ilfracombe."

Meanwhile, councillor Brian Greenslade said the statue could bring further investment to the area.

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