Officer blasts ‘pointless’ gold leaf artwork at Kettering police hub

The gold leaf artwork during its installation. NNL-180131-122457005
The gold leaf artwork during its installation. NNL-180131-122457005

A police officer has hit out at a decision to install golden leaves at the taxpayers’ expense at the new Kettering hub.

The artwork has been put up on a wall inside the Northern Accommodation Building, which was set to be the new police HQ until the force decided to remain at Wootton Hall Park.

The Northern Accomodation Building in Kettering.

The Northern Accomodation Building in Kettering.

The current police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold says the decision over the artwork was taken in 2015, when ex-commissioner Adam Simmonds was in the role, and could not be reversed without a financial penalty.

One police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s just pointless to be honest, it serves no purpose whatsoever.

“We are so stretched and and we are losing services left, right and centre.

“You’ve got places like The Sunflower Centre which needs funding and we’re installing gold leaves.”

The gold leaf artwork during its installation. NNL-180131-122457005

The gold leaf artwork during its installation. NNL-180131-122457005

The officer said he had been told the installation cost between £8,000 and £12,000, although a spokesman for current police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said they could not provide the exact figure.

The officer added that the artwork has led to anger within the force.

He said: “It could be used on frontline officers.

“There’s so many people who are unhappy about it.

Former police commissioner Adam Simmonds

Former police commissioner Adam Simmonds

“Money gets wasted anyway but to see money wasted like this, as a taxpayer myself, is ridiculous.”

A spokesman for Mr Mold said they considered cancelling the artwork but they would have made no savings by doing so as the penalty would have been the same as the cost.

The spokesman said: “The artwork was purchased as part of the overall contract for the building of the Northern Accommodation Building, a decision taken in 2015.

“More recently, opportunities to cancel the artwork have been considered but this would have incurred financial penalties within the contract and therefore were not pursued further.”

Ex-commissioner Adam Simmonds said he did not remember discussing artwork or anything in that detail.

He added that the site was just a muddy field on his last day in the role and that a lot of decisions would have been taken after he had left.

An internal communication sent by Northamptonshire Police’s chief constable Simon Edens, leaked to the Northants Telegraph, said art shouldn’t be seen as a luxury.

He said: “Personally, I want our working environment to be pleasant and some of them are far from that at the moment.

“I believe art and design shouldn’t be seen as a luxury in the workplace.

“Good art (I am not saying the leaf work is good art) can enhance our wellbeing, helping us to feel better and be more creative and productive.”

Mr Edens added that future artwork will be supplied by communities through an organisation called Making the Difference, which gives local artists an opportunity to express themselves through art.

In the internal communication, he said: “We are sponsoring four workshops and look forward to those outcomes within our buildings.

“These workshops are costing about £500 each.”

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