Plans for controversial Iron Ring structure at Flint Castle scrapped after backlash

Reporter:

David Humphreys

Proposals for a controversial Iron Ring structure have been scrapped.

After a backlash that included more than 11,000 signatures on an online petition, the Welsh Government said it was binning the planned £395,000 installation.

In a joint statement between Welsh Government, Flintshire Council and Flint Town Council, officials said: “Following a pause and review, announced earlier this summer, the Welsh Government has confirmed it will not be proceeding with proposals for two major art installations, which included the design of an Iron Ring at Flint Castle.

“However, work on Flint Castle and the foreshore masterplan will continue, with the pursuit of an alternative major art installation as a potential component of the investment.”

Opponents of the structure felt it was representative of a symbol of Welsh oppression dating back to the Middle Ages when Edward I conquered Wales between 1277 and 1283, leading to the oppression and subjugation of the Welsh people.

As part of the government review, Senedd officials met with Flintshire Council, Flint Town Council and local groups and partners to discuss the future development of the historic Flint Castle and Flint foreshore.

The statement added the Welsh Government made it clear that it was committed to “significant investment in Flint Castle and to delivering a masterplan for the foreshore and castle in consultation with local stakeholders.”

Ken Skates, Welsh Government cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, said: “We acknowledge the proposal for the Iron Ring sculpture has been divisive.

“Following extremely constructive and productive meetings with local stakeholders, we have taken the decision not to proceed with the proposed design. Instead, we’ll use the investment allocated for the artwork to help deliver the wider masterplan for the foreshore, taking in the views of local people.

“This will include developing a range of capital investments for the area and holding a number of events to increase understanding of the history of the castle and the significance of the foreshore.

“Alongside Flintshire Council and Flint Town Council, we see development of the masterplan as a high priority.”

While there was some support for the current proposed sculpture from stakeholders locally, it was recognised that any decisions on major public art installations
would need to be taken in conjunction with the wider masterplan work.

Consequently, it was agreed to stop work on the current sculpture and instead focus on using some of the allocated funding to deliver the masterplan, which sets out a vision for a shared multi-use visitor and mixed use centre to support tourism, walking and cycling, and key local organisations including the RNLI and rugby and football clubs.

Flint councillor Ian Roberts said: “We welcome this investment in the castle and foreshore and the commitment to retain current resources for Flint.

“Our recent meeting with the Welsh Government was extremely positive and I feel confident that future partnership working will ensure a favourable outcome for the town of Flint which will enhance the historic castle with its links to Richard II and Shakespeare, the foreshore and the improvement work which has been carried out in the town centre over recent years.

“We’ll continue to actively pursue proposals for major public art installations as part of the foreshore masterplan delivery.”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru North Wales Assembly Member, welcomed the decision by Welsh Government to think again.

He said: “I’m glad that the minister has listened to the many thousands who felt that this was an inappropriate art installation that failed to understand the historical sensitivities of ‘celebrating’ the conquest of our country.

“The minister has a chance now to ensure that the many fantastic legends surrounding Wales are represented with a striking piece of artwork that will inspire both local people and visitors to come to Flint and the surrounding area.

“This part of Wales has a rich heritage that deserves to be represented in the most positive manner possible.

“This u-turn in the face of popular pressure is testimony to how strongly people feel about that heritage.”

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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