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Councillors call emergency sign meeting

Friday, 8th November, 2019

One of the five unique designs by local Deanna Spicer. PICTURE: Supplied One of the five unique designs by local Deanna Spicer. PICTURE: Supplied

By Emily McInerney

A decision to accept new signage for the entrances to Broken Hill will need to be seriously considered by Councillors.

Since the designs were finalised in May, when the winner of council’s Gateway Signage Competition was announced, local Deanna Spicer has been advocating for Council to consider using her designs to help promote the city instead.

Councillors Tom Kennedy and Bob Algate have called for an extraordinary Council meeting to address the issue.

They want Councillors to discuss stopping production of the remaining four gateway signs and to use Ms Spicer’s designs instead.

“It is obvious from the community feedback that the placement of the first gateway sign has largely been negative,” Clrs Kennedy and Algate said.

“This is an opportunity for councillors to listen to feedback from the community and correct what has turned out to have had a negative impact on what should have been viewed as a positive from the community about council and councillors.”

Mayor Darriea Turley said yesterday that while the new sign could be better positioned, the design won the competition.

“While the feedback received so far has been varied, I would primarily like to address the criticism that Council has failed by not appointing a local artist,” Mayor Turley said.

“The motion passed by Council last year did not specify that people living outside Broken Hill should be excluded from participating in the competition.

“As such, the competition was conducted with the goal of attracting the best possible design regardless of the artist’s place of residence.”

With a $5,000 cash prize on offer, Mayor Turley said Council opted to appoint a judging panel mainly comprising locals to assess the entries.

“A judging panel was selected that included myself and representatives from sectors including elected members, the arts, heritage, engineering, metal fabrication, education, and our indigenous community.

“The judging process was particularly difficult, with judges having to consider not just aesthetics but the structural integrity of the designs on hand. 

“It should also be noted that all entrants’ information was removed from each design before they were presented to judges.

“In addition, it is important to remember that all participants agreed to the competition’s terms and conditions which specifically stated that the judges’ decision would be final.

“Council is contractually obligated to deliver all five signs as part of the terms of winning the competition.”

Mayor Turley said the decision to hold a competition was made at a Council meeting.

“While I acknowledge I was absent from the Council meeting when the decision to hold a competition was carried, for now I must respect and support the decision of my fellow Councillors and the outcome of the competition which they requested.

“As for concerns about the Adelaide road sign’s location and visibility, I agree that it could benefit from better positioning, and I have been assured by Council staff that they will investigate options to improve the sign’s night time and day time visibility.

“I would ask that all locals maintain a healthy perspective around this project. 

“Contrary to what some would have you believe, Broken Hill is not defined by signs on the side of the road.

“The future of tourism lies in the strategic marketing of our great city to audiences interstate and abroad, and I look forward to Council aggressively pursuing this approach in the new year and into the future.”

Clr Ron Page said he would vote for Ms Spicer’s designs.

“I’ve supported her signs from day one,” he said. “They represent the history of Broken Hill and the future of the city. She has got my vote.

“I’ve spoken with (fellow Councillor) Dave Gallagher and he is of the same opinion. 

It means so much to everyone. Every sign tells a wonderful story, they are all magnificent. It lifts the spirits of the people of Broken Hill.”

Clr Branko Licul said public art was subjective and people will have differing opinions.

“Council followed a process to select a design and the aesthetics around any signage, or public art, is always going to be subjective. You like it or you don’t. Some people don’t care either way. 

“I like the sign chosen and the finished product on the Adelaide road. 

“I look forward to seeing the backing lights installed, and how the signs appear in the other locations.

“Amidst this ‘discussion’ about alternate gateway signage, one suggestion raised with me is that the Deanna Spicer designs could be used elsewhere and/or in another way to promote the city; and this could be considered for some of the other sign competition entries.”

Clr Gallagher said he also liked Ms Spicer’s signs but it would need to be considered long and hard because the contractors have been paid.

“The money has been spent, so we will need to have a good hard think about it.

“We need to look at it from every angle and make an informed decision.

“I love Ms Spicer’s signs, they are very artistic and very detailed.

“We need to look at what the community wants and what is best for Broken Hill.”

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