Croydon Council has been accused of ham-fisted incompetence over its treatment of the fountain in Queen’s Gardens, which it has in-filled with rubble as it is being “converted” into a stage for performances through the summer, including next month’s “Ambition” festival.
Unlike certain senior council figures, the fountain in the green space outside the Town Hall has been dry for many years.
There have been engineering problems with the fountain almost since it was installed, before the Queen opened the gardens in 1983. It has never operated properly or reliably. “It used to drive Peter Bowness to distraction,” one veteran of the Town Hall from those times recalls to reaction of the former Tory leader of the council, who oversaw the commissioning of the feature.
But rather than do something to get the fountain fixed and operating, earlier this month the council announced, “The disused old fountain in Croydon’s Queen’s Gardens is to be given a temporary new lease of life as a lunchtime performance space over the summer.
“The fountain has not worked for many years and work is now under way to level the surface so it can be used as a temporary bandstand stage.”
Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader has been in touch, with withering criticism.
“How ham-fisted! To put a stage on this ugly never-fountain ought to be simple. A simple deck fabricated off-site then quickly assembled over the existing structure.
“Every festival in the country has temporary staging. If they ‘needed’ to cover this fountain, it merely needed timber and joists. One of my previous jobs was as a film art director: I’d have had this stage up in three or four days and down in one. Cheap and simple.
“Instead, Croydon Council has opted to infill with rubble and no doubt with concrete to follow.
“This was a simple task and design exercise which is destroying the ‘fountain’. What febrile brain made this simple exercise so expensive?”
However more expensive the conversion process of the fountain to performance stage may prove to be to the Council Tax-payers of Croydon, some of the performers who take to the stage at lunch times over the summer may be coming cheap.
A throwaway line at the end of the council’s press release to announce the “fountain stage” seems to suggest that the “artistic programme” for this performance area might not have what is recognised as a budget.
“Artists and buskers who would like to perform in the gardens can get in touch with the festival manager, John Bownas at firstname.lastname@example.org,” the council’s press release says, a little desperately, it seems.
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