Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Hull council pulls Philip Larkin model toads funding

Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin worked as a librarian at Hull University

Hull City Council has withdrawn funding for giant model toads after it was criticised for wasting taxpayers' money on the arts project.

The fibreglass toads are to be placed around Hull to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Philip Larkin's death.

The council had agreed to spend £175,000 on the scheme in honour of his poems 'Toads' and 'Toads Revisited'.

Council leader Carl Minns has now withdrawn the funding, which he said was approved by a council officer.

The council had also agreed to donate £25,000 towards a sculpture of Larkin to mark the anniversary in December.

Last week the authority said the toad project would help boost the city's profile.

Move 'disappointing'

Mr Minns said he learned about the project while at a three-day conference in Birmingham on Friday and he pulled the funding as soon as he arrived back in Hull on Monday.

He told BBC News: "I took one look [at the paperwork] and withdrew council support for it.

"I don't think it's something the council should be using council taxpayers' money to support.

"It is embarrassing for the council.

"The fundamental principle of this for me when I read the paperwork... is do you want to spend £200,000 of taxpayers' money on fibreglass toads for 10 weeks."

The toads project is part of the Larkin25 series of events being organised across Hull by the Phillip Larkin Society.

Graham Chester, the society's chairman, said the council's decision was "disappointing".

He said: "But it just makes me even more determined to raise the necessary sponsorship amongst business and local organisations because it's a great idea."

Emily Penn, Larkin25's programme director, said: "We will redouble our efforts to raise commercial sponsorship and may have to revisit the scale of the project in line with the final funding achieved."

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