A GIANT metal elephant sculpture will be built on one of Colchester’s busiest roundabouts after planning permission was granted.

The controversial 7.8m tall “wayfinding” statue will be created on the Albert roundabout at Cowdray Avenue as part of a project to fix the link between North Station and the town centre.

Colchester Council, Essex County Council and Greater Anglia have contributed the scheme and £200,000 has been allocated to pay for the elephant, new lighting, landscaping and improved CCTV.

Gazette: View - the eye-catching elephant sculpture View - the eye-catching elephant sculpture

The proposal has divided opinion, with some questioning whether public art should be a spending priority for cash-strapped councils.

However on Thursday evening, Colchester Council’s planning committee approved the bid, as no speakers chose to object.

READ MORE: Elephant statue bid for Albert Roundabout set for approval

Colchester MP Will Quince, who has been an outspoken critic of the sculpture, raised the issue in parliament on Thursday.

Addressing the Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, Mr Quince said called for a debate on how new homes bonus money can be invested.

He said: “I am a big fan of elephants, but this is ridiculous.

"May we have a debate on the appropriate use of new homes bonus money, and the role that it plays in providing infrastructure to support housing growth?”

Ms Leadsom said he had raised an “important issue”.

“The question is, is the elephant on a trunk road?” she said.

“I have every sympathy with my honourable friend. None of us wants to see white elephants, particularly when they are paid for with public money.”

Gazette: Lights - the sculpture at nightLights - the sculpture at night

Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s deputy leader, also moved to distance the authority from the sculpture.

He said: “Whilst discussions with officers of this authority have taken place, I have never expressed a view on the sculpture, nor have its detail ever been discussed with me.

"Right now with difficult financial times facing local government we need to ensure our money is spent on services.”

“ECC has contributed to the wider scheme of Fixing the Links which is aimed at improving routes and directions for pedestrians and cyclists and to help tourism in the town.

"This is essential and helps with future sustainable transport.

“Colchester Council is leading this project and I would urge those councillors in charge to consider carefully how they use public funds to ensure maximum benefit.”

Here is the breakdown of the contributions for the £202,000 scheme:

  • Essex County Council: £39,000
  • Greater Anglia: £10,000
  • Safer Colchester Partnership: £6,000
  • Colcheter Council (New Homes Bonus): £100,000
  • Colchester Council: £47,000