Firstsite fence 'makes it look like Belmarsh'

Gazette: The 'prison-like' fence at Firstsite. The 'prison-like' fence at Firstsite.

A FENCE installed around the edge of the Firstsite gallery has been described as “like Belmarsh prison”.

The barrier has been put up between the multi-million pound art gallery and land towards Priory Street set to become a school playing field.

Plans have been in place for the St Thomas More’s Primary School, in Priory Street, to use the site as a playing field for many years, but the fence has just been put in place and has not met with a good reaction.

Riverside estate resident Ray Hollingsworth said: “It is nothing like the architect’s vision and it looks like a prison.

“It is an unbelievable eyesore – like a high security area at Belmarsh.

“In the future there might be benches and trees in, and I understand it needs to be secure, but it was never supposed to look like this. This is not in keeping with the vision the people of Colchester were sold and I feel the people have been cheated.

“Is there an art gallery in the world with anything like this around it?”

Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for regeneration at Colchester Council, said: “It is balancing aesthetics and security.

“Firstsite, the council and the school will need to sit down and talk about the future and what we could put up there.

“At the moment it is getting the fence done as a priority.

There will be a lot more changes going on in that area, with the cinema and other plans too over the next few years, and we will have to see what happens.

“You don’t want to spend a lot of money on landscaping and design work if it then has to be taken out when something else moves into the St Botolph’s Quarter.”

Bridget Harris, headteacher at St Thomas More’s, said: “There has to be a security fence there and I think the council has done an excellent job of choosing a fence which will be easy to maintain and secure, because it has a duty to make sure it is safe.

“Firstsite makes a natural barrier, but, when it is all done, this will be a very secure area.

“You don’t want it falling down or being trampled on, it must be sustainable. The idea was always to soften it with some trees and things once it is done.

“The council has always had it in mind to make it more attractive, but you have to get the fence up first.

“It is nice it is see-through with large slats. You can see it is a field beyond the fence and this is a good compromise.”

A spokesman for Firstsite said it would be inappropriate for the gallery to comment as the fence was on council land.

Comments (17)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:13am Wed 18 Dec 13

stevedawson says...

That type of fence is what is and has always been deemed necessary to keep out the unwanted.what is the news item here?
That type of fence is what is and has always been deemed necessary to keep out the unwanted.what is the news item here? stevedawson

9:28am Wed 18 Dec 13

Bert_Stimpson says...

I think it is a fine piece of conceptual sculpture representing the physical barrier between vital youth education and visual arts profligacy in a decaying urban environment.
I think it is a fine piece of conceptual sculpture representing the physical barrier between vital youth education and visual arts profligacy in a decaying urban environment. Bert_Stimpson

9:35am Wed 18 Dec 13

Hamiltonandy says...

Colchester Council has never made its plans public and the hideous fence reinforces the view that the town hall social club are cultural barbarians. All it needs is watchtowers and searchlights and Stalag Barlow will ensure the public are kept away from the art elite in the VAF. A pity it does not surround the VAF and hide the carbuncle from view.
.
I am surprised Firstsite have not hailed the fence a creative interpretation of post-modern sculpture. The quickest way to obscure the fence will be generous number of sycamore seedlings and ivy plants. Hopefully there will be quite a few ready next spring!
Colchester Council has never made its plans public and the hideous fence reinforces the view that the town hall social club are cultural barbarians. All it needs is watchtowers and searchlights and Stalag Barlow will ensure the public are kept away from the art elite in the VAF. A pity it does not surround the VAF and hide the carbuncle from view. . I am surprised Firstsite have not hailed the fence a creative interpretation of post-modern sculpture. The quickest way to obscure the fence will be generous number of sycamore seedlings and ivy plants. Hopefully there will be quite a few ready next spring! Hamiltonandy

10:11am Wed 18 Dec 13

Ritchie_Hicks says...

Looks like Belmarsh prison? Huge exaggeration.
Looks like Belmarsh prison? Huge exaggeration. Ritchie_Hicks

10:48am Wed 18 Dec 13

brooks says...

a fence is a fence is a fence and an art gallery is a place where you hang pictures on a wall. OOOPS.... No it is not!
a fence is a fence is a fence and an art gallery is a place where you hang pictures on a wall. OOOPS.... No it is not! brooks

11:38am Wed 18 Dec 13

Bert_Stimpson says...

Cheeky Gazette, comparing Belmarsh to Firsts*ite.

It's chalk and cheese. One is overcrowded with too many people, while the other is a £28m+ rusty tin shed eyesore that no one wants to visit.

At least in prison they allow your family and friends to visit. Work at Firsts*ite, your family and friends don't want to visit.

At least in prison all expenses are paid by taxpayers, with no work required. Work at Firsts*ite and it's exactly the same...!
Cheeky Gazette, comparing Belmarsh to Firsts*ite. It's chalk and cheese. One is overcrowded with too many people, while the other is a £28m+ rusty tin shed eyesore that no one wants to visit. At least in prison they allow your family and friends to visit. Work at Firsts*ite, your family and friends don't want to visit. At least in prison all expenses are paid by taxpayers, with no work required. Work at Firsts*ite and it's exactly the same...! Bert_Stimpson

8:00pm Wed 18 Dec 13

25414nora says...

I actually visited the culture quarter today, the new fencing separates our first site arts building and it's immediate grounds, from the playing field of St Thomas more catholic school. It was always understood that this barrier would be necessary for the security of the school children, as is a requirement in every school in the land. People with vision will appreciate that when the planned landscaping is complete, the fencing will be mostly obscured by the planned trees and shrubs that will be planted. I am confident that 'when finished', everyone in Colchester will be proud of the finished project.
EVERYONE Except our Bert and Andy. Hope they don't take
"A FENCE"....
I actually visited the culture quarter today, the new fencing separates our first site arts building and it's immediate grounds, from the playing field of St Thomas more catholic school. It was always understood that this barrier would be necessary for the security of the school children, as is a requirement in every school in the land. People with vision will appreciate that when the planned landscaping is complete, the fencing will be mostly obscured by the planned trees and shrubs that will be planted. I am confident that 'when finished', everyone in Colchester will be proud of the finished project. EVERYONE Except our Bert and Andy. Hope they don't take "A FENCE".... 25414nora

8:33pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Madcowmac says...

Get over it, it is a fence
Get over it, it is a fence Madcowmac

10:08pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Boris says...

The really monstrous aspect of the VAF is that we lost our bus station. To moan about the fence seems utterly trivial. I have huge respect for Ray Hollingsworth, but his comparison to Belmarsh is OTT.
The really monstrous aspect of the VAF is that we lost our bus station. To moan about the fence seems utterly trivial. I have huge respect for Ray Hollingsworth, but his comparison to Belmarsh is OTT. Boris

11:26pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Hamiltonandy says...

When the VAF was being planned, no-one mentioned the bus station would have to go. No-one mentioned a school would then demand half the remaining space. Colchester Council is solely responsible for all the consequences of inflicting their hideous VAF on us and all the lunacies since then in the "cultural quarter".
.
The security fence may seem minor to some people but it is yet another example of the cultural barbarians running the council unchallenged. Why is no one prepared to speak out at council meetings? Truly you get the governance you deserve.
.
Look at the desolation of abandoned buildings in the "cultural quarter". The refusal of any property company to take on this failed project. All I am waiting for is the official confirmation that Curzon cinemas have given up before telling the town hall social club what I think of their arrogant misuse of public funds. It does not matter how much public money they squander in the "cultural quarter" their humiliation will continue.
When the VAF was being planned, no-one mentioned the bus station would have to go. No-one mentioned a school would then demand half the remaining space. Colchester Council is solely responsible for all the consequences of inflicting their hideous VAF on us and all the lunacies since then in the "cultural quarter". . The security fence may seem minor to some people but it is yet another example of the cultural barbarians running the council unchallenged. Why is no one prepared to speak out at council meetings? Truly you get the governance you deserve. . Look at the desolation of abandoned buildings in the "cultural quarter". The refusal of any property company to take on this failed project. All I am waiting for is the official confirmation that Curzon cinemas have given up before telling the town hall social club what I think of their arrogant misuse of public funds. It does not matter how much public money they squander in the "cultural quarter" their humiliation will continue. Hamiltonandy

10:03am Mon 23 Dec 13

Dorian says...

Mr Hamiliton, I was always known the bus station would go. I personally informed you of this on several occasions at the time and since. If you had seen the master plan it showed shops, flats and markets on the site and green space. The banking crash had not yet happened and there was a lot of optimism, but the sad thing is that the developing partners found it impossible to proceed with the plan as drawn. The same happened with the Vineyard Gate development. They were commercial developers and they need to make a profit. It would be nice if the Council had funds to build, and it would be nice if they had powers to enforce this kind of agreement, but that is not how the law , the financial situation or the world works. So it had to be a commercial job, and of course the developers dropped it like a hot brick leaving the Council to pick up the pieces and make the best of a bad situation. As for the "Firstsite" fence. It is nothing remotely to do with Firstsite, It is St Thomas More Schools security fence, nothing more, nothing less., so dont go poking sticks at them, much as you might enjoy it.
Mr Hamiliton, I was always known the bus station would go. I personally informed you of this on several occasions at the time and since. If you had seen the master plan it showed shops, flats and markets on the site and green space. The banking crash had not yet happened and there was a lot of optimism, but the sad thing is that the developing partners found it impossible to proceed with the plan as drawn. The same happened with the Vineyard Gate development. They were commercial developers and they need to make a profit. It would be nice if the Council had funds to build, and it would be nice if they had powers to enforce this kind of agreement, but that is not how the law , the financial situation or the world works. So it had to be a commercial job, and of course the developers dropped it like a hot brick leaving the Council to pick up the pieces and make the best of a bad situation. As for the "Firstsite" fence. It is nothing remotely to do with Firstsite, It is St Thomas More Schools security fence, nothing more, nothing less., so dont go poking sticks at them, much as you might enjoy it. Dorian

1:22pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Hamiltonandy says...

Gazette letter from councillor Barlow 23/12/13 clearly states that "developers in St Botolphs (cultural quarter as was) will not "be receiving loans from the council to pay for redevelopment work", Quite a commitment so the next thing to find out will be how little Curzon cinemas are paying for "the purchase of Roman House".
.
If only those who claim to have known all the facts were forthcoming when the VAF was being planned. I do not remember any mention in the press or even being "personally informed of this on several occasions at the time and since". Then Dorian claimed in a Gazette letter that I had refused to visit the VAF when in fact I made visits throughout and after its construction.
.
I remember the so called "master plan" that Colchester Council regularly announced. What we have in reality is a wasteland suited for using in gritty wartime era films. If Colchester Council had been open from the start and were prepared to talk about the "cultural quarter" they might not be in the mess they are. Their humiliation will continue until they realise an arrogant dictatorial and secretive behaviour only leads to failure.
Gazette letter from councillor Barlow 23/12/13 clearly states that "developers in St Botolphs (cultural quarter as was) will not "be receiving loans from the council to pay for redevelopment work", Quite a commitment so the next thing to find out will be how little Curzon cinemas are paying for "the purchase of Roman House". . If only those who claim to have known all the facts were forthcoming when the VAF was being planned. I do not remember any mention in the press or even being "personally informed of this on several occasions at the time and since". Then Dorian claimed in a Gazette letter that I had refused to visit the VAF when in fact I made visits throughout and after its construction. . I remember the so called "master plan" that Colchester Council regularly announced. What we have in reality is a wasteland suited for using in gritty wartime era films. If Colchester Council had been open from the start and were prepared to talk about the "cultural quarter" they might not be in the mess they are. Their humiliation will continue until they realise an arrogant dictatorial and secretive behaviour only leads to failure. Hamiltonandy

7:50pm Mon 23 Dec 13

stevedawson says...

The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will.
The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will. stevedawson

9:41pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Hamiltonandy says...

Steve is right that most people do not care as long as the rubbish is collected and roads repaired. That is why this Gazette forum works in that everyone can put forward their views. Contrast that with council meetings where you know the councillors are there but they are not listening. It would be great if councillors were prepared to have an open discussion on the VAF and cultural quarter. Instead we go on from confrontation to confrontation and disaster following disaster.
Steve is right that most people do not care as long as the rubbish is collected and roads repaired. That is why this Gazette forum works in that everyone can put forward their views. Contrast that with council meetings where you know the councillors are there but they are not listening. It would be great if councillors were prepared to have an open discussion on the VAF and cultural quarter. Instead we go on from confrontation to confrontation and disaster following disaster. Hamiltonandy

10:35pm Mon 23 Dec 13

linton68 says...

stevedawson wrote:
The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will.
Steve Unwittingly you have answered your own question. " The few are outweighed by the majority"..Its called democracy. Weather you and a bunch of others agree, or not, The tail doesn't wag the dog. You can talk down Colchester, till your'e blue in the face, and if you say it often enough you might even convince yourselves.
[quote][p][bold]stevedawson[/bold] wrote: The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will.[/p][/quote]Steve Unwittingly you have answered your own question. " The few are outweighed by the majority"..Its called democracy. Weather you and a bunch of others agree, or not, The tail doesn't wag the dog. You can talk down Colchester, till your'e blue in the face, and if you say it often enough you might even convince yourselves. linton68

2:44am Tue 24 Dec 13

Janie91 says...

Not sure any school fence can ever look great, but I'm curious about the old waiting room in the bus park which is looking good. I miss the old bus park but hope good can come from bad.
Not sure any school fence can ever look great, but I'm curious about the old waiting room in the bus park which is looking good. I miss the old bus park but hope good can come from bad. Janie91

11:49am Tue 24 Dec 13

romantic says...

linton68 wrote:
stevedawson wrote:
The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will.
Steve Unwittingly you have answered your own question. " The few are outweighed by the majority"..Its called democracy. Weather you and a bunch of others agree, or not, The tail doesn't wag the dog. You can talk down Colchester, till your'e blue in the face, and if you say it often enough you might even convince yourselves.
Yes, democracy means that we elect people to act on our behalf, but it doesn't mean that a vote should be the sole way of making a point. It is sadly true that large swathes of the population don't really care about much apart from what directly affects their own lives. That makes it even more important that the people who do care are able to get their views known.

This website gives a forum for people to discuss some of the issues. I have no idea how many people actually read it. There are perhaps 100 people who get on here and make their point. That could be seen as a drop in the ocean when compared to the 100,000+ population of Colchester. We are perhaps deluding ourselves into thinking these words we type have any impact at all. Nevertheless, it is a good place to see the viewpoints of others. I disagree with many of the posters here, but I still respect that they care.

The whole story of VAF/Firstsite is one of elected councillors and unelected council officials offering up what could best be described as incomplete democracy. There was never any real debate about whether this was wanted or needed, the extent of the democratic process was to decide which design would be used. People who queried the project were shouted down as "philistines". Now that it is built, and OUR money has financed it, we have to make it work, but the same culture of non-accountability seems to continue in every project that is mooted in this town. Democracy does not stop at the vote.

As for the fence, I'm not that bothered: I am sure in time it will be planted around and will blend in.
[quote][p][bold]linton68[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]stevedawson[/bold] wrote: The few people that feel aggrieved with decisions by those with the power are far outweighed by those who are non caring and apathetic. Thats how we have bob and a condem gov, and all the past destructive and expensive failures in the borough and always will.[/p][/quote]Steve Unwittingly you have answered your own question. " The few are outweighed by the majority"..Its called democracy. Weather you and a bunch of others agree, or not, The tail doesn't wag the dog. You can talk down Colchester, till your'e blue in the face, and if you say it often enough you might even convince yourselves.[/p][/quote]Yes, democracy means that we elect people to act on our behalf, but it doesn't mean that a vote should be the sole way of making a point. It is sadly true that large swathes of the population don't really care about much apart from what directly affects their own lives. That makes it even more important that the people who do care are able to get their views known. This website gives a forum for people to discuss some of the issues. I have no idea how many people actually read it. There are perhaps 100 people who get on here and make their point. That could be seen as a drop in the ocean when compared to the 100,000+ population of Colchester. We are perhaps deluding ourselves into thinking these words we type have any impact at all. Nevertheless, it is a good place to see the viewpoints of others. I disagree with many of the posters here, but I still respect that they care. The whole story of VAF/Firstsite is one of elected councillors and unelected council officials offering up what could best be described as incomplete democracy. There was never any real debate about whether this was wanted or needed, the extent of the democratic process was to decide which design would be used. People who queried the project were shouted down as "philistines". Now that it is built, and OUR money has financed it, we have to make it work, but the same culture of non-accountability seems to continue in every project that is mooted in this town. Democracy does not stop at the vote. As for the fence, I'm not that bothered: I am sure in time it will be planted around and will blend in. romantic

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree