Council spends £40,000 on 68 giant granite balls
A county council has been criticised for spending £40,000 on 68 giant granite balls to protect its new headquarters from ram-raiders and terrorists.Tory-run Staffordshire County Council has positioned 'spherical bollards' costing £587 each outside its £38 million Staffordshire Place offices.
They have been described by the council as part of "an essential security package" - yet regular upright bollards are on sale for less than half the cost of the balls.
But Councillor Tom Harris, whose Forebridge ward takes in Stafford town centre, said: "I would have expected a cheaper option than the spherical bollards.
"The council says it will make savings from the move but they are spending nearly £40 million to save £10 million.
"Staffordshire Place was dreamed up at a time when money was growing on trees.
"But we are in a different situation now. There have been redundancies and a lot of other changes.
"I think a lot of taxpayers in Staffordshire will be asking whether the council is getting the best value for its money."
County Councillor Christina Jebb, who is leader of the Liberal Democrat and independent group, said: "These balls seem extraordinarily expensive. I'm sure they could have provided something very similar for a fraction of the cost.
"Obviously they will want to make the outside of the building attractive as well as the inside but they could have been a lot more measured."
Accounts clerk Shoab Iftikar, 24, said: "It seems like a waste of money to me. Why would anyone want to attack the Staffordshire County Council?"
Housewife June Hardinge, 58, remarked: "I don't think they are very pretty and it does give the feel of the council building being like Fort Knox or something.
"I can't see the council offices being a target for ram-raiders. Wouldn't they be targeting a bank?"
Peter Darby, 42, said: "Stafford is hardly a number one target for terrorists."
The council worked with Staffordshire Police to decide how many bollards it needed.
Councillor Mark Winnington, cabinet member for environment and assets, said: "The stone bollards surrounding Staffordshire Place are part of an essential security package designed to protect the building and its occupants from threats, including ram raids.
"Some of the options we were given were more expensive than the one we decided on while others were less expensive.
"Our main priority was to provide value for money for taxpayers. We wanted to provide sturdy protection while also ensuring that the area surrounding the building was aesthetically pleasing.
"Staffordshire Place sits in the heart of Stafford and forms an integral part of the town centre masterplan to put Stafford on the map."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "These bollards are designed to prevent crime."