WHAT YOU THOUGHT: Public divided on whether new seat is worth the cost
The City of Greater Bendigo has defended its decision to install a $28,370 seat in Hargreaves Street, saying it was street art that lifted the appearance of the city's centre while also serving a practical purpose.
The City's director of presentation and assets Darren Fuzzard said the 'pocket park' at the intersection of Mitchell and Hargreaves Streets where the seat stood was a prominent location suited to street art.
"Installing ‘traditional’ seats within the pocket park would have cost between $12,000 and $15,000 to serve the same number of people as the new seat can," Mr Fuzzard said.
"The site however is not large and therefore providing five traditional seats was not seen as the best option to avoid making the park appear too busy or impacting on the informal grassed area.
"The solution developed by the City's in-house designers was therefore seen as a good way of meeting the objective of providing interesting and attractive objects within the streetscape while addressing the practical need for comfortable seating in close proximity to the bus stops.
Councillor Peter Cox said councillors knew nothing about the cost of the seat until they heard about it in the media.
"It was very badly timed when it came out, we’re putting the rates up by six per cent and then residents see that the seat cost about $29,000.
"I think it demonstrates that council is a little bit out of touch and that we’ve got to be much more prudent in our spending.
Cr Cox said it wasn't necessary to have "the best seat in Australia" and that there needed to be a balance between good design while being "modest" with the cost.
Cr James Williams said if it had been his choice, he might have chosen something different but liked the seat.
"If we spend a little bit more on a seat, well so be it. I’m comfortable about that decision at the end of the day," he said.
Cr Rod Fyffe the council did the right thing in considering "aesthetics as well as practicality".
Cr Elise Chapman said councillors had nothing to do with the seat.
"I don’t think it’s good value for money," Cr Chapman said.
"To me, $30,000 is more than a councillor gets paid for an entire year.
"No, I’m not impressed."