Art fans angry after council bin artwork with ‘no perceived value’

Art fans and Labour councillors have expressed their disappointment with council leader David Renard after artwork with ‘no perceived value’ was binned.

Canal Walk - Milton Road Bridge - before and after
Canal Walk – Milton Road Bridge – before and after

Positive Swindon blogger Angela Atkinson, who owns the Born Again Swindonian blog, took to Twitter to express her upset over the loss of art on the side of the former canal bridge on Milton Road, over Canal Walk.

Angela said: “In the early years of my move to Swindon I recall seeing the friezes on the canal bridge down behind Milton Road and being intrigued by them and thinking how lovely and interesting they were.

SwindonTown Centre Fairytale BIG Christmas Lights Switch-on SwindonTown Centre Fairytale BIG Christmas Lights Switch-on

“Now they are gone. On one side they’ve been replaced with soulless advertising blocks promoting InSwindon BID and ‘Welcome to the Town Centre’. Why? How many ‘visitors’ are coming down that path? Anyone using that route already knows the town centre is there. On the other side, the art is gone and it’s been replaced with nothing.

Canal Walk - Milton Road Bridge
Canal Walk – Milton Road Bridge today

“A Twitter enquiry from me ensued – where had they gone and why and who authorised their removal and replacement with dreadful pointing and pointless advertising.”

14 days after Angela’s first tweet, Conservative Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council responded – but his tweet didn’t please anyone – stating that he had been told that there was ‘no perceived value in retaining faded artwork on rotten timber panels’.

Labour Party Councillor for Liden, Eldene and Park South, Fay Howard tweeted: “Does make me wonder, what of value might we lose next?”

Angela continued: “So, what is this ‘perceived value’ Councillor Renard speaks of? Whose perception? Who decides what has value and how is value being defined exactly?

“Monetary? Historical? Artistic? What? I’m really rather saddened by all of this.

“I am probably Swindon’s biggest fan but I can struggle to maintain my positivity in the face of this lack of interest and this sort of attitude. It’s hard not to get the feeling that the powers that be here are on a mission to make the town as bland, as dispiriting and as soulless as they possibly can. And they wonder that it has an image problem?

“There’s all sorts of small points of interest like this around the town. They are its seasoning. They are the things that add flavour and colour – the surprises tucked away here and there.  I can think of quite a few.

“Well, now there’s one less. Well done Swindon.”

Jim Robbins, Labour Party Councillor for Mannington & Western asked Councillor Renard: “Who made the decision? Who decides what has value?”

Talking to Swindon 24, a spokesperson for InSwindon BID said: “We did not have any involvement in the removal [of the artwork]. The council approached us to use the space.”

It is still unclear as to who took the decision to discarded the artwork – our investigation continues.