By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Sutton-in-Ashfield’s town centre sundial will be removed, the district council has confirmed.
Ashfield District Council has said it will definitely not form part of their new vision for the area, after a consultation suggested local residents would prefer to see it go.
The controversial installation has stood since 1995, but it is expected to be replaced by a new green space focal point and a revamped pedestrian area close to shops and cafes in the middle of the town.
The district council also says it wants to hear from any community groups interested in taking the sundial so it can be re-housed elsewhere in the district.
The sundial itself could be replaced by two large, raised planted green areas featuring built-in seating.
This would become the new “focal point” in Sutton, replacing the 27-year-old sundial viewed by many as a “Marmite” love-it-or-hate-it piece of local history.
The move follows a round of public consultation earlier this year about how the revamped square could look.
At the time, the authority said an “overwhelming majority” of respondents wanted to see it removed.
Now a leading councillor has confirmed that will become a reality but revealed he will work with community groups who would like to see it restored.
Councillor Matt Relf (Ash Ind), the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, urged community leaders to come forward and work with the authority if they want to find a rehoused spot for the sundial.
Speaking in Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, he said: “I don’t have a hatred of it and I was completely open-minded about whether to keep it, but we went out to public consultation and I was surprised by just how much people didn’t like it.
“I can confirm it plays no part in the plans going forward for Portland Square. There are its supporters who would be sad to see it go, and there are talks about whether it’s possible to relocate it.
“However, the upper diagonal arm of it is actually fibreglass and I understand the years have not been kind to it. It’s now quite brittle and the possibility of moving it successfully would likely result in quite a hefty repair bill.
“This isn’t within the realm of what we’re looking at delivering. However, if there are community groups out there who do want to take that on and site it somewhere else, I’m more than happy to work with them.
“I have no desire to maliciously melt it down. If people want it, we can talk to them about that.”
The revamped square comes as part of the £62m Towns Fund investments across the Ashfield district, with the authority planning to burst new life into the heart of Sutton.
The design, first revealed in July, includes semi-mature trees, grass and flowers, and will lead to increased pavement space around town centre shops.
The sundial, which was created in 1995 at a cost of £800,000, was initially planned as a “world-renowned attraction”.
It is thought to be one of the biggest sundials in Europe, although the council has said its impact on tourism “remains unclear”.
And Cllr David Hennigan (Ind), who represents Central Sutton and New Cross which covers the town centre, previously said there is “little love” for the sundial in his area.
He added: “It has been a grotesque waste of money and I hope its time is up.”