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County council orders War Horse removal from Norfolk roundabouts

PUBLISHED: 07:37 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:36 18 November 2017

Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor

Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor

Archant

It may not contain the same drama as Troy’s tragic tale, but a giant horse spotted at a number of Norfolk roundabouts over the past few months has attracted the attention of the county council who want it gone.

Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor

Taverham artist Damian O’Connor, who constructed the giant “War Horse”, defended its placement at the roundabouts after the Norfolk County Council ordered him to remove it for safety reasons.

Mr O’Connor said: “I have a fascination with horses and always wanted one so I decided to make one.”

He said the sculpture was made from steel, wood and Norfolk reeds.

“It weighs a ton, is over 10ft high and more than 10ft long and is on a trailer,” he said.

“I have been moving it around for the past few months and have placed it on about 10 roundabouts along the NDR, A140 Cromer road, Holt Road and Fakenham Road.”

Mr O’Connor said he was not trying to sell the sculpture but was trying to “excite people”.

“I’ve had a lot of feedback which has been very positive,” he said.

However, a letter from Norfolk County Council highway engineer Chris Mayes ordered him to remove it or face possible “enforcement action”.

Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor Damian O'Connor's War Horse sculpture which has been placed at a number of Norfolk roundabouts. Picture: Damian O'Connor

Mr Mayes wrote: “This is both an obstruction of the highway and could be a nuisance to other highway users. We have made you aware of this problem so that you can remove the item as soon as possible.

“We do understand your desire to promote this artwork, however, we cannot allow this to be on highway land which is purely for the use of highway users.”

Mr O’Connor responded: “What a lot of horse s**t, or more politely - hypocritical twaddle.

“When it comes to responsible management of roundabouts, I would be interested to hear NCC response to claims arising from damage to property and personal injury, from vehicle collisions as a result of drivers being distracted by the roundabout advertising NCC sells.”

He said the sculpture was placed well away from the road and it did not pose a danger to road users.

“If ever you get to travel beyond our NDR 3/4 completed ring road, especially in other countries, you will see almost every roundabout globally, proudly displays a sculptural centrepiece.”

Commenting on the matter, a Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “Safety must come first on our roads. As the highways authority we have a legal duty to carefully consider requests to put anything on highway land to be sure it doesn’t cause an unnecessary or dangerous obstruction, or reduce visibility for drivers, walkers or cyclists.

“We know that new road layouts can take time for people to get used to so we need to avoid distractions and do not want a situation where a driver collides with such a large and heavy object which has been placed without permission.

“We have used our discretion in this case but now had to ask that the sculpture is removed and the owner finds a more suitable place to promote the artwork.”

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