Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Leader's apology for Bang failure

B of the Bang
B of the Bang is currently fenced off

A council leader has apologised for the technical failure of one of the UK's biggest public artworks.

Sir Richard Leese had faced calls to apologise for the "embarrassment" the 1.4m B of the Bang sculpture had brought the city.

Manchester City Council is mothballing the 56m (183ft) steel structure after a series of safety problems.

Sir Richard said the authority wanted to continue working with bold artists, but was "sorry it had not worked".

The B of the Bang, by Thomas Heatherwick, was unveiled outside the City of Manchester Stadium in 2005, two years later than expected.

One of its 180 steel spikes was dislodged within two weeks, and 22 were eventually removed from the sculpture.

Councillors voted on Wednesday to put it in storage, but said it could be rebuilt with different materials in the future.

However the necessary funding - estimated between 2m and 3m - would not come out of public funds and would instead need private backers.

I'm really sorry that it has not worked
Sir Richard Leese, council leader

Manchester Withington MP John Leech had called on Sir Richard to "apologise for the embarrassment the project has brought to the city".

But, speaking to Radio Manchester, the council leader said he did not regret the authority's decision to commission the sculpture.

"I cannot think of a piece of public art in this city that has generated so much discussion and debate," he said.

"If I'm going to have to apologise for bringing a world-renowned artist to Manchester, for working with that artist and trying to do something that's truly spectacular, then I'm sorry for trying to do something spectacular.

"I'm really sorry that it has not worked. I'd be a lot happier if it had worked, and I'm really sorry that it doesn't," he added.

'Misguided failure'

In response, Mr Leech said: "I think that's half an apology.

"But it's not accepting that it was an embarrassment from the beginning and it has embarrassed Manchester by creating something that clearly didn't work, and has been a misguided failure."

The artwork was commissioned by the council to mark Manchester's Commonwealth Games in 2002 and stands outside the City of Manchester stadium.

Standing 56m (183ft) high, its name came from sprinter Linford Christie's comment when starting a race he always went on the "B of the bang".

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