THE creator of Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet today accused council bosses of “vandalising” his masterpiece after ripping part of it up over fears of a tram accident.
Blackpool Council removed five huge slabs – breaking them in the process – because they felt the Carpet was too close to Promenade tram tracks.
Town hall officials said that as some visitors walked backwards admiring the attraction’s hundreds of jokes and catchphrases there was a danger they may wander in front of the resort’s new supertrams.
But artist Gordon Young says he should have been given the opportunity to change his design earlier rather than the slabs – which feature the names around 100 comedians as well as the title of the piece – being removed.
He told The Gazette: “It’s a major work of art, somebody has vandalised it with no consultation at all. It’s arrogance beyond rudeness.
“I’ve had no communication from the council over this – it’s really upsetting, I feel sickened.
“The people in the (entertainment) industry are so proud their names are part of this, now they (the council) have smashed up comedians’ names and a dedication slab to Ken Dodd. It was supposed to last for 100 years. I feel so let down and disappointed.”
The Comedy Carpet – funded by a £4m Government grant – features catchphrases from around 1,000 comedians and was officially opened by Ken Dodd in October.
The slabs removed, which were less than half a metre from the tram tracks, featured entertainers’ names including Blackpool’s very own Mooky the Clown and a mention for Blackpool Council and sponsors Sea Change.
Alan Cavill, assistant chief executive for regeneration and culture at Blackpool Council, said Mr Young had been told there were concerns over the proximity of the slabs to the tramline and the council had vowed to monitor the situation prior to the tramway re-opening in April.
Mr Cavill said: “We have watched how people walk backwards on to the tracks while reading these five slabs which is unacceptable.
“We commissioned a piece of art and there is a contract which makes them (the Comedy Carpet company) responsible for the risk assessment of the piece of art.
“Gordon didn’t want the slabs to be removed but no-one came up with another solution that was affordable or achievable.
“I don’t think people would have been happy for us to fork out thousands of pounds to move the Comedy Carpet around.
“We are upset we’ve had to damage the Carpet, it’s very sad, but there was no other option.”FOR THE FULL STORY AND REACTION SEE TUESDAY’S GAZETTE