Portishead's Battery Point Lighthouse bell given pride of place in town... but at cost of £20,000
By The Bristol Post | Thursday, January 31, 2013, 05:00
TAXPAYERS in Portishead could be left with a bill of up to £20,000 – for displaying a former lighthouse bell, which was bought for just £1 – in the town centre.
The former Battery Point bell
Portishead Town Council has been leading the project to make a feature of the bronze bell, which used to hang in the lighthouse at Battery Point.
The bell was installed on the central reservation at Wyndham Way earlier this month and an official unveiling ceremony is due to take place next week.
The bell, which weighs two tonnes, used to hang in the lighthouse and sound to warn sailors travelling along the Bristol Channel of treacherous weather conditions.
It was put in the lighthouse when it was built in 1931 but removed 12 years ago because of structural concerns.
The town council paid £1 for the bell after local residents Annette Hennessy and Carol Thomas tracked it down. Councillors were keen to see the bell put on display and initially set aside £2,500 to spend on architects and planning permission fees.
Councillors then earmarked a further £12,000 to build a special structure for the bell to hang on.
But over the months, the costs of the project increased again with the contractor's bill for its installation now around £14,000.
The town council has also had to foot the bill for additional surveys, including one on the water pipes below the site which is understood to have cost several hundred pounds.
A tree survey has had to be carried out, at the request of North Somerset Council and the bell had to be insured, adding to the costs.
Councillors are concerned the final cost of the bell project could reach as much as £20,000.
Money for the project was taken out of reserves from the council's environmental, cultural, heritage and allotment budget.
Councillor David Pasley wants a breakdown of the costs to be given at next month's town council meeting.
Mr Pasley said: "As much as it is nice to celebrate the heritage, to spend this much money on putting the bell on show is ridiculous."
Town council officials said the final costs for the project were not yet available as some invoices were still awaited.