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Fisherman row after rules breach

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By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Fisherman row after rules breach

ANNAN Community Council breached planning regulations when they ordered the removal of a statue without consent or approval from the local authority, Dumfries and Galloway Council has said.

The Haaf Netter, gifted to the people of Annan by Tesco on completion of the town’s supermarket in 2009, stood on the nearby Scotts Street roundabout until last year.

Members of Annan Community Council had discussed relocating the £40,000 statue since its head was removed under mysterious circumstances in 2018.

And chairman Alan Weild said at a meeting last February that the group “would like to see it taken down”.

But he added there was uncertainty surrounding ownership of the statue.

In November, he authorised a forklift truck to mount the roundabout, uproot the bronze fisherman and take it to a local scrapyard where it’s remained ever since.

Mr Weild later said: “The majority of people didn’t want it there, so we kind of decided that we’d remove it.”

Asked if he had notified the council beforehand, he replied: “We were told it was ours and the council wanted nothing to do with it when the head went missing.”

But a report published ahead of next week’s Annan Common Good Fund Sub Committee states that the removal of the statue without consent or approval from Dumfries and Galloway Council breached conditions set-out when planning permission for the supermarket and roundabout was granted in 2008.

However, it adds there is currently “no intention to pursue any formal action by Dumfries and Galloway Council to those who instructed removal” due to “conflicting information of ownership and the ongoing issues with the removal of the Statues head”.

Local sculptor Paul Cowan, who was commissioned to create the piece, has called on the local authority to hold the group to account.

He said this week: “The whole trouble with the community council is they think they run the town, they have this jumped-up attitude that ‘whatever we say goes and that’s it’.”

Mr Cowan, 57, called the actions of the group “sheer stupidity” and added: “They had no safety in place; they just yanked it out, they didn’t block-off the road and they didn’t lift it properly.

“It’s been a real hit on my reputation and it’s quite embarrassing.

“It doesn’t really matter who owns it – they still can’t remove it without permission because Annan Community Council definitely don’t own it.”

The artist stressed that he “will not be dropping this”.

And he added: “I will pursue Dumfries and Galloway Council if they’re not going to stand up to the laws of the land.”

Furthermore, the report, which will go before the council committee next Wednesday, also reveals that earlier this year a request was made to the local authority by community councillors to have the Haaf Netter relocated to Whinnyrigg Fish House.

But the council said that having it sited anywhere other than the roundabout would require new planning permission and backing from members of the sub committee.

Annan Fisherman’s Association and Haaf Netters, the primary users of Whinnyrigg Fish House, have been approached regarding the Haaf Netter’s relocation and “agree this would be a suitable location for the statue to be installed”, according to the report.

Annan Community Council refused to comment.

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