Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

Local council members may feel ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ as residents of the town were quick to criticise the recent unveiling of a new Monument Walk Shelter.

The covered structure, located on the new paved area adjacent to the Grylls Monument at the bottom of Coinagehall Street, was designed by the highly regarded landscape architecture and design company MeiLoci, best known for its creative and sustainable design principles.

Fittingly for Helston, the shelter features Flora Day-themed artwork by local artist Emma Unwin and was funded by a £10,000 contribution from Cornwall Council’s Devolution Fund, £8,645 from a National Lottery grant, plus £5,000 from the town council.

My initial reaction to seeing the shelter was that it provides a positive visual impact and is aesthetically pleasant, while representing the quality and style of modern artistry I am happy to see it in our town and celebrating our most unique selling point – Flora Day.

Ideally the shelter would be part of a wider plan to improve the appearance of Helston. As a regular critic of how the council spends, and often wastes, taxpayers money, it is a genuine pleasure to be able to offer deserved praise for a change.

The colourful shelter appears to have divided opinion online with some social media commenters scathing in their remarks. One post read: “Kids finding it handy for “hanging” but will soon be discovered by the gentlemen’s outdoor drinking club”.

Another added: “Shocking waste of money. Yes, it looks great, but is pointless surely? Another example of the town council being completely out of touch”.

Others defended the work with one perfectly articulating my own thoughts with the words: “I think it looks amazing. Designed and fitted by Cornish companies. Art by a Cornish artist celebrating a Helston tradition. Accessing £18k in out of town funds. £23k could have been spent on thousands of more worthy things. But we probably would all find something negative to say about that too. It makes the town more aesthetic and shows a step in a more optimistic direction. Which is worth every penny. And seriously, if it becomes somewhere for homeless to sleep or people to sit and have a drink. Good luck to them. They gotta sit somewhere.”

I couldn’t help but think the new shelter could also provide the perfect spot for local decision makers to sit and ponder more new ways of revitalising Helston’s neglected town centre.

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