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KCC deny interfering in 'Angel of the South' contest

Mark Wallinger's white horse design
Mark Wallinger's white horse design

Kent County Council has denied it is politically interfering in the £2million artistic competition to find a landmark sculpture to be "the angel of the south".

Deputy leader Cllr Alex King insisted the council had a right to make its view known and to lobby for one of the three shortlisted designs for the site (pictured above) in Ebbsfleet - Mark Wallinger’s huge white horse - to be changed to a prancing horse to reflect the county’s historic Invicta symbol.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the council’s efforts to drum up support for the alternative design had at one stage led it to contemplate spray painting a stencil of a horse around the county in the style of the graffiti artist Banksy.

Cllr King was interviewed about the council’s campaign for a prancing horse on Radio 4’s arts programme Front Row. Interviewer Mark Lawson asked if he regarded the council’s involvement as political interference.

In his reply, Cllr King said: "What we have said is that we would be delighted to see a horse in the frame but we would like to see a horse that is the symbol of Kent.

"I do not know how you can say it is political interference when it is the symbol of the local newspaper group [the KM Group], it is used by hospital trusts and very widely in the county. It is very special to the people of Kent."

He went on: "We would like to see it [the horse] a bit more prancing. I understand entirely the credibility of the artist and I understand Mark Wallinger’s position. What we have been saying is that it might be an idea to consider whether there should be a prancing white horse."

Meanwhile, documents released to the KM Group under the Freedom of Information Act reveal KCC devised a far-reaching PR strategy to raise the profile of its campaign.

Among the ideas floated was to have a "spot the white horse" competition and to commission a university arts department to mastermind a "guerilla marketing" campaign involving stencils of the prancing horse being spray painted around the county.

A spokesman for the organisers of the Ebbsfleet Landmark Competition, which has been commissioned by Eurostar, London & Continental Railways and Land Securities, the developers of Ebbsfleet Valley, said there would be no alterations made to the three designs.

However, each would be assessed to test their viability in engineering terms and potential costs before a final decision in January.

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