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Shrewsbury's Quantum Leap cost is more than Angel of the North

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A Shropshire town's controversial sculpture has ended up costing £200,000 more than the world-famous Angel of the North.

Figures from Gateshead Council reveal that Antony Gormley's iconic 20m (65ft) high steel sculpture, which was completed in 1998, cost £800,000 – below the £1 million that ended up being paid out for Shrewsbury's Quantum Leap, dubbed Slinky by local residents.

The Angel of the North, which has a 54m (175ft) wingspan, is now one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world, seen by 33 million people every year as it towers above the local landscape.

A spokesman for Gateshead Council said: "It is a major pull. We get a lot of traffic and people go and see it and we know people visit Gateshead because of the Angel."

The smaller-scale Quantum Leap in Mardol Quay, which is 12m (39ft) high and 17.5m (57ft) long, was originally due to cost just £200,000 when it was first conceived as a way of marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the town's most famous son Charles Darwin.

But its final budget spiralled to more than £1m and an Audit Commission report has exposed a series of failures with the management of the project which led to it costing taxpayers five times more than it should have.

Councillor Jon Tandy, who asked for the Audit Commission to investigate the fiasco, said: "It is unbelievable. Even the Angel of the North cost less. It (Quantum Leap) should never have been built.

"I realised, and 99 per cent of the general population realised, we were wasting money."

Steve Charmley, the council's cabinet member responsible for Quantum Leap, said: "We are extremely disappointed by the adjudicator's ruling, especially as the design specification was developed by the architect appointed by the former Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council, prior to Shropshire Council coming into being. However, we have accepted this decision."

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