SUPPORTERS of a controversial arts project believe the tide of public opinion could be turning in their favour.
Many people spoke in favour of the £50,000 plan to erect a panopticon on top of the Coppice at special meetings in Accrington Town Hall and Huncoat Primary School this week.
There is now once again a glimmer of hope for the scheme after Hyndburn Council voted to reject it, with leader Peter Britcliffe declaring: "No,no,no."
Nick Hunt, the director of project co-ordinators Mid-Pennine Arts, urged the public to hear the full facts before jumping to conclusions.
He said: "The Coppice is a much-loved central site but it needs some tender loving care."
And he insisted that huge dome-shaped earth works, pictured above, were not final and more work was being carried out by architect Peter Beard before the final design is unveiled on Tuesday.
He added: "We are working with councils, regeneration groups and action groups such as the Friends of Arden Hall and Prospects.
"There has been a lot of coherent thinking behind this scheme. The aim is to promote the landscape and regenerate the area. Most of all, it is a celebration of the local landscape."
Mr Hunt used other sculptures, such as the Angel of the North and Darwen Tower, to back up his argument.
And he stressed at both meetings that accepting the panopticon would attract funding from other sources for the wider Coppice site and surrounding area, such as improving pathways and picnic areas.
At Tuesday's Huncoat Area Council meeting Councillor Dave Parkins said: "This scheme will attract inward investment of £300,000 or more. People who walk up the Coppice know what a terrible state the paths are in and the county council and local council don't have the money to maintain them."
Peter Grime Row resident Ian McCann called on project leaders to incorporate Accrington's world-famous Nori brick in the scheme.
He said: "The problem is that people see earth works and can't relate to them.''
Councillor Brendan Shiel added: "We need something that will turn heads and make people want to visit the area. I think it would be a good thing for Huncoat."
Hyndburn's Cabinet is set to decide whether to give the scheme the green light after the final designs are submitted.
Before then, residents can view the designs at Accrington Library, Accrington Town Hall, Asda, the Haworth Art Gallery, Hyndburn Sports Centre, the New Era complex and Oswaldtwistle Mills from Tuesday.