THERE’S been a bit of a fuss about Harold Wilson’s statue in St George’s Square this week.
Kirklees Council has plans to move Lord Wilson away from his prime position as a meeter and greeter outside Huddersfield railway station to a slot next to the Head of Steam pub.
Now I’m sure that the ex-PM was a man who enjoyed the occasional pint, while he puffed on his famous pipe, but such a move is deservedly encountering stubborn resistance.
Personally I think they should leave the statue alone, but then I’m also of the opinion that the entire square should be left alone.
The issue of the statue is really a bit of a distraction from the fact that Kirklees has a spare £4m to revamp this section of the town centre and intends to spend the money, come what may.
I know I’m not the first to object to the scheme.
Architects’ drawings supplied to The Examiner show a piazza of Tiananmen Square proportions, laid out with neat little cypress trees and a paved area that looks like a movie set for the television series Rome.
In reality this scheme will disrupt traffic flow, result in yet more changes to the complex one-way systems already in place and provide an open space that would be quite nice for the next People’s Prom or Christmas lights event but otherwise be a grandiose frivolity.
It would be like me spending £10,000 on paving over my entire front garden – which is about what it would cost – so that my in-laws could park there when they visit us twice a year.
If I was a millionaire, of course, then I wouldn’t think twice. In fact, I’d throw in a helicopter pad on the lawn. But I, like the council, have a finite source of income and a budget.
Four million is a lot of money and I’m sure there are other, more worthy, projects that could benefit from such a cash injection.
It’s not as if new paving will solve any of the considerable social problems faced by some residents of the town.
It doesn’t seem that long since St George’s Square had a facelift and the statue was unveiled with much ceremony. Do we really need fountains for drunken Saturday night revellers to play in and a water feature? Have our councillors been watching too many garden makeover programmes or do they think the railway station should resemble Fontainebleau?
Perhaps they’re simply short of ideas about how to spend the public’s money?
In which case we could all help by offering our suggestions as to how £4m could be better spent.
I’ll go first.
How about giving it all to the Forget Me Not Trust, so that the planned children’s hospice can be built NOW. Or simply taking less from the council tax payers next year, instead of more.
No doubt someone will say that the former is not possible because of constitutional constraints and the latter is money from a different pot.
But you know what I’m getting at.