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Friday, April 28, 2006


The title of this post is indicative of a certain proportionality. This same group of numbers can also be expressed as whole percentages: 64%, 23%, 12%. As ratios in relation to each other they are roughly 5:2:1. The largest is nearly five times the smallest, while the middle number is twice the smallest, and nearly 2/5ths of the largest.

The title also refers to the votes cast at tonight's public consultation meeting in relation to Mr. Lutz' proposal that the planning application for the Moseley Ent be rejected outright. 41 people voted in favour of rejecting the proposal, 15 voted against rejecting the proposal, and seven people other than myself abstained. So, of the 64 people voting, 64% supported the rejection, 23% opposed the rejection, and 12% abstained. Some people went home feeling quite pleased with themselves. I went home thinking that the people I nominally agree with have made such idiots of themselves that I might have to consider changing sides.

Not that I have changed my opinion of the statue: I still think it's out of context, in the wrong place, not sufficiently compelling, possibly the wrong material, and gives in too easily to the planning regime in terms of health and safety, size, and whatever else the bureaucrats dictate. Plus, as one objector noted, the pigeons will shit on it. (To which David Isgrove succinctly replied 'pigeons shit on other things too'.)

But when the people who object are by and large coming up with trivial or lame-brained attempts to rubbish the proposal, I have to ask myself how I managed to get aligned with this bunch. It's as though the village prat, the village reactionary, and the village bully have all come down on the same side of the issue as me (and a handful of others). Conversely, the arguments of David Isgrove and Mark Guest are more coherent, more comprehensive, than ever.

What becomes distinctly clear is that a lot of people are just not paying attention. Half a dozen people got up to complain that there had been no publicity about this statue project; that this thing had just come out of the woodwork, and so on, all apparently unaware that the project extends backwards some ten years and two or three iterations of public discussion. A couple of other people objected  to it on the basis of a public money/public art angle, not realising that this project is privately funded - by subscription - and that their objections were groundless. One woman objected on the grounds that the project hadn't been run by a professional arts fund-raising group. Other people objected to the narrow scope, the absence of multiple and diverse approaches, each seemingly not realising that the group of people working on this have done so under their own initiative, with whatever resources they could muster on their own.

In short, a majority of people seemed to think this is a public art project run by a powerful, well-placed committee in complete disregard of public views. My impression is that they left with those ideas intact. But not through any absence of alternative information. Isgrove and Guest have articulate and credible answers to every question put to them.  So I can only conclude that people came -- and left -- with closed minds, and that some of them were well-pleased with themselves for their efforts. These are not the kind of people I'm keen on being associated with. This post should make that clear.

There was one fellow who is entitled to a more colourful characterisation, but I cannot recall precisely what he said, so there's not much point in trying. He accused the statue group of being some kind of evil coterie, and his most articulate comment was in the vein of 'it's  shite', but he was nonetheless nominated to make closing remarks for the opposition. I would have liked a photo of this moment, but the scene as a whole was not that interesting. So I took a photo of the colourful Run-a-Muck schedule instead. I've been wondering what day they're along my road. Now I know.

In the end, a Mr. Lutz proposed a vote on unilateral rejection of the application as it stands. This meant that anyone who thought the proposal should go forward in any form, along with anyone who thought the proposal is fine as is, would be voting against the proposal. Need I say that this necessitated several attempts to count the vote, and that a few people were confused about what their votes were indicating? (Peculiarly, this count of 41 in favour of rejection was larger than a preliminary count of 33 in favour of some kind of art on the green. Clearly, some of the 33 felt that objecting to the current planning application was not an objection to some kind of artwork, but that the current application was not worth carrying forward in any form.)

I am now rooting for the statue group to keep their thing going. I am not perverse enough to lend support to the project as a way of giving a two-fingered salute to the people I heard tonight. I am, however, convinced that it's better to keep the thing alive than to kill it stone dead at one stroke. The options don't leave much latitude. It goes to planning committee where it's either accepted, and gets built, or rejected, and gets modified or abandoned. At this point I am content for it to be built as is or modified. Abandonment is the worst option of the three.


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