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The removal of a 30ft golden statue of a naked man has left residents feeling ‘gutted’ after it was suddenly taken down. The statue, affectionately nicknamed ‘golden balls’ and ‘Willy’ by locals, was seen being towed through Wigan on October 11, much to the dismay of its fans who have branded the removal ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the nude statue, with ‘unmissable features’, was part of a promotion tour of the blockbuster movie Gladiator which starred Russell Crowe back in 2000.
Five years ago he was erected outside Titan Flooring Specialists in Wigan before living in the car park outside furniture store Bulldog Forge in Darlington Street East, Ince, since last year. However, it has now been towed following a planning permission dispute.
The huge figure’s owner told the Manchester Evening News it’s now in storage to protect it from the long and cold winter. Wigan Council said they have been ‘liaising with the landowner for the relevant planning permission for the statue’.
Councillor Stuart Gerrard posted a picture on Facebook of the statue being removed and said: “If you do happen to venture into Wigan, you may of noticed the giant golden statue with certain unmissable features. Apparently the council have demanded its removal.”
Speaking to the M.E.N., Coun Gerrard said he thought the statue was ‘art’, and that there was ‘nothing really offensive about it’. As he explained: “Obviously there is an appendage, but art all over the world has got that. Some of the most famous pieces in the world are in a similar style. They don’t get removed.
“For me, it’s just a bit of light relief, really.”
Other residents have also been left ‘devastated’ by the absence of the nude statue. Commenting on a post Grant’s Furniture, Obscurities, and Gifts’ post, Les Taylor said: “Aww, oh no. I loved driving past that. Now the drive will be so boring.
“Life’s hard enough as it is at the minute, now even a little bit of fun to make you giggle has disappeared. Shame on Wigan Council.”
Another resident said she was ‘devastated’ at the loss of the statue and Rebecca-Ann Ford said “I think my two little ones will cry next time we come past’.
However, not everybody was upset about the removal of the statue.
One Facebook user commented: “About time they took it down,” and another said “Oh thank god it repulsed me everytime I drove past it.”
A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “The council has been liaising with the landowner as regards to the need for the relevant planning permission for the statue. The statue has been removed very recently, and so the Council is now reviewing its next steps in line with its normal processes.”
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