The replacement of the handrails along Jubilee Steps in St James’ Park needs to be a priority for Shaftesbury Town Council in 2021. That’s according to members of the council’s ROSE Committee.
The council has been talking about installing more attractive railings for almost a decade. Cllr John Lewer said the delay was ‘shamefully long’.
The ‘utilitarian’ design of the current railings wasn’t the only issue. After an interview on Alfred, Cllr Lewer had been approached by locals who relied on holding the railing to, ‘get themselves up and down the steps’, but who found the current railings too low. Cllr Phil Proctor revealed that the Gold Hill railings, which appeared to his preferred style, were coated in plastic so they wouldn’t feel too cold.
Cllr Karen Tippins suggested that black paint would present a quick way to ‘prettify’ the railings, but Cllr Proctor warned that wouldn’t. “In a year or two it’ll be flaking off and then we have an ongoing maintenance problem,” he said.
Cllr George Hall believes that the style of the railings should be decided by the design principles of the Shaftesbury ‘brand’, to ensure that everything matches. “We really have to start having some joined up thinking in this town,” said George, adding that experts are currently working with Town Hall staff in determining, ‘how we present Shaftesbury to the world’.
He said the outcome of the branding exercise should guide the appearance of new railings. “If the outcome of that is we’re a modern, vibrant, lively town, the railings should reflect that. If it says that we’re a historical town, and we’ve had a fort, we’ve got an abbey and that’s the look, the railings should reflect that. If we’re an art and cultural town, which we could argue we are, and if that’s the route we go, then the railing should reflect that,” said Cllr Hall.
Cllr John Lewer was not convinced. Unless the railings were similar to those on Gold Hill, he felt the council would, ‘never sell the idea to the public’.
It was agreed that design options and costings will be collated by council staff for councillors to consider. The Full Council will have to agree to adding the railings project to its strategic plan after years of inactivity. A budget of £10,000 has previously been discussed and, as the cost will exceed £5,000, the Full Council will need to sign off this spend. It’s thought that could happen early in March.