Littlehampton town centre 3D murals face backlash: councillor who chose them has their say

A councillor who gave the green light to £14,000 3D murals in Littlehampton’s town centre has reacted to criticism of the decision.

Two underwater ‘optical illusion’ murals by artist Jon Hicks were installed in the High Street last month by Littlehampton Town Council. They were jointly funded with Arun District Council from a government grant and cost £14,190, according to a town council report, with the aim of encouraging shoppers to visit the town centre.

The artworks have created a splash online – and not the kind the councils were hoping for.

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On the Gazette’s Facebook page, Karen Berry said: “What a waste of money! Does the council honestly think these are actually going to bring shoppers into the town? With winter approaching who is going to stand in the rain and pose.

Littlehampton Town Council installed two pieces of 3D art in Littlehampton’s High Street in October. Left to right: town mayor David Chace with councillors Dr James Walsh and Jill Long who picked the designs.

“Surely the money might have been better spent on installing some hand sanitizer stations and some proper floor markings like Rustington has.”

Town councillors Joanne Price, Michelle Molloy and mayor David Chace all distanced themselves from the decision.

In response, James Walsh, chairman of the town council’s Policy and Finance Committee, said he and vice-chairman Jill Long picked the specific designs after the committee ‘unanimously supported the idea’ of street art.

Former town councillor Derrick Chester said on the Gazette Facebook page that his successors should hold councillors Walsh and Long to account, adding: “It pains me to think of all the hard work going into charitable fundraising by people like yourself and then sums like this disposed of in this way.”

Dr Walsh added: “The installation is aimed principally at the younger, media savvy generation, for Instagram shots and posting, where the 3D effect works best, with the intention of bringing more people into the town centre and spending in shops, coffee bars and pubs.

“Art works are always controversial, but this often increases interest in them, and viewings. They are intended to last up until Christmas to boost town centre trade, before the refurbishment of the High Street and Beach Road gets under way.”