It was meant to offer an inviting welcome to Skegness, transforming a dilapidated old eyesore into an attractive triumph of multi-agency collaboration.
But just weeks after Skegness Railway Station’s £720,000 improvements were completed, an accident on the new plaza’s wave-like sculptures saw them boarded up amid widespread controversy.
And that’s how they remained - for more than a year - growing faded and water marked as the town’s councillors and residents poured scorn on authorities’ failure to replace the unsightly wooden boxes.
Now, amid growing fears the station may suffer another summer of inactivity, Lincolnshire County Council has offered a glimmer of hope.
Head of transportation Chris Briggs says work installing new features to deter people from misusing the sculptures is hoped to begin ‘within the next month or so’.
“However, it must not be forgotten that the original installation was designed to enhance the look of the local area, and so we’re keen to make sure that these safety measures do not compromise the artistic merit of the piece,” he added.
Skegness based digital artist and district councillor John Byford has met the announcement with a mixture of cautious optimism that an end is in sight and perplexed incredulity that it has taken so long.
“I understand that there was an accident, which had to be investigated but that shouldn’t have meant the whole project had to come to a halt,” he said.
“It was an eyesore all summer and I don’t want to see it staying that way in 2013 - the boarding is starting to look dilapidated and it’s totally unacceptable.”
As an outspoken critic of the project from its outset, he still believes it would have enjoyed greater success had more extensive local consultation taken place.
He said: “I would have liked to see something more exciting - we’ve already got Jolly Fisherman statues, why do we need another?
“Besides, there’s no Jolly anyway, there’s just an empty plinth, it has become a national joke.
“The fact that health and safety forced its closure shows there was not enough forward planning or consultation.
“They didn’t consult and now they’ve got egg on their face.”
Work on the project began in spring 2011, with the demolition of the old station buildings, but it was not until December that they were completed.
Network Rail, East Midlands Trains and Lincolnshire County Council each contributed to the project with additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund,
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Weather for Skegness
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North east