At least £85,000 spent on Horsham’s Shelley Fountain

JPCT 11-05-12 Horsham , Shelley Fountain, water restriction signs on fountain, S12200198a -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120121105155949
JPCT 11-05-12 Horsham , Shelley Fountain, water restriction signs on fountain, S12200198a -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120121105155949

At least £85,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on Horsham’s Shelley Fountain between 2009 and 2013, according to partial figures supplied by the council.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that Horsham District Council spent tens of thousands of pounds a year on general maintenance, planned work, electricity and water for the controversial sculpture.

The Rising Universe, more commonly known as the Shelley Fountain, is located in the Bishopric and was installed to commemorate the bicentenary of Percy Shelley’s birth.

An HDC spokesperson said: “The fountain works using a hydraulic process which requires regular maintenance.”

The council separated costs into four categories - general maintenance, planned, water and electricity for the 2009-2013 figures.

Over the four year period, the council has spent £23,300 on general maintenance and £52,800 on planned works for the fountain.

Between 2010 and 2012, the electricity bill for the fountain was £7,680, and from 2011-2012, the water bill cost HDC £1,740. These figures were not provided for other years, where ‘no information is held’.

The cost of the Shelley Fountain is now included in a ‘town centre water features budget’ and cannot be given individually.

A spokesman for the HDC said last month: “The council has invested on average a little over £1,000 per month since 1998 to run and maintain the fountain.”

However in recent years the costs appear to be much higher than this.

Plans to revamp the Bishopric area of Horsham town centre were shown in a council exhibition last month.

Ideas included removing the Shelley Fountain and replacing it with a Dalek statue, in memory of designer Ray Cusik who lived in Horsham until his death last year.

Sculptor Angela Conner spoke out in defence of her artwork and its place in Horsham earlier this month.

Angela said: “The town’s ratepayers have spent vast sums on the sculpture over the years.

“Any question of the sculpture being destroyed, and them losing their investment, seems wrong.”

She added: “It makes a great feature at the centre of the four pathways. The sculpture has become a famous part of Horsham.”

The fountain has been regularly malfunctioning since 2008. It has not been turned on since 2013.