- The Parish Council has an important role to play in maintaining and improving local services and facilities, including the management of Public Open Spaces and support for the arts. In June 2021, a working group was established to plan for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, and to consider how we as a parish could help commemorate this historic event. Parish Councillors felt it appropriate to mark the occasion with an event which would celebrate the fact that in 2022, the Loxton Fields green space was to pass to Parish Council ownership, with the potential to create a lasting memorial for the occasion.
- The Jubilee Project commenced with a working group which included representatives from the Parish Council, Community Group, and St. Andrew’s Church. We have also had input from one of our residents who expressed an interest in tree planting as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy. This has therefore, been a collaboration from a range of people across the parish.
- Following discussion, the Jubilee Working Group came up with the idea of installing a permanent reminder of the Platinum Jubilee in the form of natural sculptures, to form part of a sculpture trail around the parish. Precedent had already been set a few years ago with the installation of our Tommy Statue at the entrance to Harlestone Manor, and this could be followed by other sculptures in future years to mark specific events or special occasions. As a parish made up of mainly new housing estates and no other local infrastructure, the working group and council all agreed this would help to create an identity for the parish for everyone to enjoy and to enhance the quality of our local green space.
- The Jubilee Working Group collectively agreed the theme for the sculptures to be local wildlife, as this matched the similar views of the residents who attended parish council meetings who had expressed a wish that the Loxton Fields green space be dedicated to preserving local wildlife (a matter which was subsequently voted on by the Parish Council). Two specialist wood carvers have been sourced to create the sculptures to an agreed design and cost. Following discussion and advice from the sculptors, the Working Group recommended that three sculptures be created: a carved bench, an owl, and a fox. The bench and an owl will be installed on the appropriately named “Jubilee Wildlife Park”, set to be opened on Loxton Fields over the Jubilee weekend in June. To ensure equity across the two estates, it was also recommended that a sculpture be installed on green space in Harlestone Manor. Following further research, the Working Group identified a suitable spot next to the balancing pond at the edge of the Harlestone Manor estate.
- The carved bench will depict a range of local wildlife and enable anyone using the Park to sit and enjoy the area. The owl was selected to commemorate a local resident from Duston who supported the parish and passed away during the Pandemic, and who had a particular love of owls and actively supported their conservation. The fox was identified from a selection of animals by a child from Harlestone Manor estate. All animals chosen for the sculptures are reflective of animals that we see and hear every day, given our proximity to Harlestone Firs, the rural parts of Harlestone and the wider neighbourhood.
- The working group spent 5 months exploring options for the sculptures and it was not until this point that the cost of them could be determined. At the Parish Council meeting in November, quotes for the sculptures as provided by the sculptors were discussed. The council agreed that subject to other outgoings anticipated before the end of the financial year, there would be budget available to purchase the sculptures. However, the budget would not be allocated until costings had been approved for the purchase of a Vehicle Activated Sign for the Road Safety project, which was designated to be the priority. Later, once the costs of the sign had been obtained, it was determined that there would be approximately £3,200 remaining which could be allocated to pay for the sculptures. This is a maximum budget for all three items, not the actual cost of the items themselves. All sculpted pieces will be hand made and as they are bespoke, the exact costs will not be available until the finished item has been approved and handed over to the Parish Council. Formal quotes for the bench and fox are awaited but it is envisaged that the cost for both items will be in the region of £2,000 – £2,500. A quote for the owl has been received and is approximated to be £400, including installation. The bench will be paid from the Community Infrastructure Levy budget pot (known as CIL) that was handed to the Council from the local authority from the development of HM and LF and must be spent within 5 years or will be required to be returned ( 3 years have already elapsed). The remaining costs will be taken from the council’s revenue budget for 2021/22.
- As the council do not own the green space on Harlestone Manor, HMPC approached Greenbelt for permission to site the Harlestone Manor sculpture on the edge of the balancing pond. The council also sought the views of all residents who overlook the pond to ensure they were happy with our approach; no negative feedback has been received. The Council were planning to communicate these plans to all residents in their Spring newsletter, in the run up to the Jubilee Period. We had no prior warning that Greenbelt were intending to issue a letter to residents regarding our request and their letter pre-empted our own communications. We appreciate that the arrival of the letter to Harlestone Manor residents, without any other communication from the Council, has understandably caused concern for some residents on the estate. The Parish Council would like to reassure residents that this was not their intention, that we fully respect the views of all our residents and are happy to receive any feedback on this project at any point. Permission to site the sculpture is still being discussed with the management company. Should it be determined that Greenbelt require any payment for the installation or maintenance of the area around the sculpture, consideration will be given to siting that sculpture on the Jubilee Wildlife Park instead, where no costs would be incurred. The council is committed to ensuring that there will be no impact to residents on the management fee charged by Greenbelt arising from installation of the sculptures.
- All decisions and spending regarding the Jubilee preparations, including the creation of the sculpture trail, have been discussed at monthly meetings of the Working Group and at Parish Council meetings, which any member of the public can attend. Decisions reached are fully transparent and are audited. Minutes of these meetings are displayed on the notice board in Harlestone Manor and can be downloaded from the HMPC website (insert link).
We hope this communication has helped to provide the background to the sculpture project. Should you have any further questions or comments, please contact the clerk in the first instance.