By Alex Matthews
Council chiefs have been slammed for splashing thousands on a garish mural of a large duck which locals have branded an ‘eyesore’.
The artwork, which covers half the wall of a shop, is supposed to advertise the entrance to the Aylestone Meadows reserve in Leicester.
The idea was to showcase the wildlife that people can find in the 21 acre wetlands.
The £4,000 mural sits right next to a small bridge used to enter the park, behind a standard road sign advertising the meadows.
About 100 yards down the track into the park is a second sign greeting visitors.
Designed to commemorate ‘all the things people love’ about Aylestone Meadows, the painting features a large duck surrounded by a hare, a cow, and a dragonfly.
But a local councillor and residents have hit out at the council’s use of public money on the project, even suggesting local teenagers could have created it.
Despite the money spent on the mural, the brook under the bridge is clogged with branches, plastic bottles and packaging.
Liberal Democrat councillor for the ward Nigel Porter said: “It’s a fair whack of money for what it is. For £4,000 the cost is really high. I can’t understand it.
“I was there on Thursday and spoke to local people about it and they were surprised it cost anything at all.
“You can get graffiti artists to do these things for free, and they would be thankful to have such a large canvas to paint.
“Why the council has forked out so much money for it I don’t know.
“It doesn’t really reflect the park either. Having a massive duck in the middle does not make much sense, as you don’t see many mallard ducks around.
“People mostly come here to walk their dogs and enjoy being outside. It would have been better to focus on that, rather than put a random animal as the centre piece.
“When I look at it I just think of Milton Friedman’s quote ‘nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as he spends his own’.”
Will Clark, 20, a student at Leicester University, said: “I come here every week and for that mural £4,000 is a lot of money. It’s not worth that much.
“They don’t need to spend money on the park. The city council should instead be doing a hell of a lot more with that money.
“There’s a problem with homelessness in the city. The £4,000 should go towards helping that, not a mural.
“You don’t need a sign. There’s already one there and people know where it is.
“It looks better than a blank wall but not for that much.”
Glyn Farman commented: “When LCC are apparently having to make massive cuts it seems a bit of an extravagant project…… I’m sure they could have gotten some of the youths to do it for free….. seeing as all they’ve got to do is hang around on the streets.”
Rachel Vinnyey said: “Waste of money, it looks like a very expensive eyesore. That money could have been put towards good use.”
The mural was painted by Leicester artist Leigh Drummond, who works under the name Mono.
He was previously commissioned by the city council to complete a large scale painting to commemorate Leicester City’s Premier League triumph last year.
The work, which celebrated the Thai heritage of the club’s owners with pictures of Asian elephants and Buddha, was fiercely opposed by Historic England after it appeared on the side of the Grade-II listed Newarke Houses Museum.
Deputy city mayor and Labour ward councillor in Aylestone Adam Clarke said: “I was pleased to support funding of £2,000 towards this project, through the ward community fund.
“Aylestone Meadows is both a haven for wildlife and an area of great heritage. We’re lucky to have a committed team of volunteers in AMAS who are always looking for ways to promote this asset to our city to new users.
“This artwork showcases the work of a talented local street artist and illustrates what the meadows has to offer. It’s a new landmark for the area and it demonstrates the pride and community spirit of local people.”
Anne Hayto, the chair of the Aylestone Meadows Appreciation Society (AMAS), said: “This wonderful mural is the result of an idea by members of AMAS, with the aid of ward funding. With AMAS working in partnership with Councillor Clarke and the artists we have achieved something really special and lasting.
“The fabulous artwork captures the essence of Aylestone Meadows and all the things we love about the area are there, from cows to dragonflies. We hope that people who see it as they pass and who maybe don’t know what they have been missing will be encouraged to go and discover Aylestone Meadows for themselves.”
Izzy Hoskins from Graffwerk artists’ collective said: “Graffwerk has enjoyed working alongside everyone on this project. Mono is a great artists and this wall is a fantastic example of his work.”