Safety fears over Fakenham sculpture

It has already sparked debate on its artistic merits - but now concerns have been raised that Fakenham's new public sculpture could be a health and safety danger.

It had already sparked debate about its artistic merits - but concerns have now been raised that Fakenham's new public sculpture could pose a health and safety danger.

The steel silhouette of an oak tree outside the Tesco store in Oak Street is now in place and will soon be officially unveiled by artist Colin Miller.

The design of the �30,000 artwork caused mixed views when it was selected after a public consultation exercise last April, with some critics complaining about its visual appearance.

But, at a meeting of Fakenham Town Council, deputy mayor

Mike Coates said the straight, upright edges of the striking structure could also present

a physical danger to anyone

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with imperfect eyesight.

North Norfolk District Council officers have dismissed that suggestion.

They insist that the artwork does not pose a significant risk as it is not directly on a pathway and work is continuing to improve the lighting.

But Mr Coates said: "Having

seen this big lump of metal

put up, I was a bit concerned about the end-on profile of the thing.

"If you have got bad eyesight

and walk towards it end on, you would not see it, especially at night.

"It would be like walking into the edge of a door.

"We are just waiting for the first person to walk into it and sue the district council."

The district council's commercial team leader, Gemma Williams, heads a team covering corporate safety and enforcement issues.

She said: "We considered the style and positioning of the piece during the planning process and we've also identified further improvements in terms of the lighting.

"Because it is not on the pathway, it is in an area which is encouraging someone to sit and view.

"With the existing lighting and some improvements due to be made to the uplighters in the raised flower beds, I don't see that there is a significant risk to pedestrians.

"We considered all these things in advance and we needed to do that to make sure it was safe."