Look At It This Way - August 19, 2011

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Art for art’s sake is not metal for money’s sake. Yet we live in a Blackpool where even the Borrowers would risk losing the roof above their heads – ask the little people at the Model Village who have already lost the lead from their roofs.

And there’s already been one fatality as a result of a manhole cover going missing in this locality.

There is no limit to the depths to which metal thieves sink, some even targeting a local cemetery, nicking taps, which meant staff found areas awash, and mourners couldn’t water flowers as the supply had to be turned off.

We – and future generations – have lost three statues in Stanley Park, hacked away and carted off. It is appalling. If police find one of the missing horses’ heads, I’d love them to leave it in the bed of the offender.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Instead, police issued a press release warning the top 10 known metal offenders: “we’re watching you.” (Sadly, just not when the metal is actually going missing....)

So now the council is contemplating putting replicas in place of pop artist Sir Peter Blake’s Life is a Circus (and you can say that again) bronze, now a fraction of its former size. It cost £100k. It’s worth very little as scrap even with escalating values.

Few things are more base, in heritage terms, than this metal crime. It steals peace of mind in the form of gates from homes.

Exhaust pipes have gone.

One householder called police after seeing thieves at work and later pointed to a van passing the road, telling the bobby – that’s the one. “Circumstantial,” he is said to have told her.

It’s my understanding a lot more metal has gone missing than we’ve been told – some of it jeopardising public safety. And all for the want of a nail – as the old poem goes.

Why, if arrested, charged, and brought before courts, are we not seeing sufficiently heavy punishments meted out?

Having once been a Leftie with liberal leanings, I’ve now joined the lock ’em away lobby ... so long as the cells have bars and the locks haven’t been nicked too.

In wartime, local towns collected every spare scrap of metal to build fighter planes. Now the enemy’s within. There are two pieces of art I cherish locally because my brother helped create them, and because both include the word “sister”.

For how much longer will I pass them? With police and stations being cut we can’t put officers on art attack patrol.

So now we must batten down the hatches or install replicas because base metal is the criminals’ new Klondyke gold. It’s sickening, saddening, and the punishment must fit the crime.

I’m melting down my golf clubs to make an Iron Maiden to rent to magistrates – who, incidentally, have lost the lead from the court roof, too...