THE COPPICE has moved a step closer to having a controversial panopticon, but top councillors have accused the group behind the scheme of blackmailing them.
The sensational claims were made when Hyndburn's ruling Cabinet met to discuss what was supposed to be the final design for the Accrington landmark.
But the "ripple" design was slammed and sent back to the designers who were told to remove the circles, keep it simple and keep the picnic benches.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe accused Mid Pennine Arts, who administer the Government-funded public art work, of arguing that unless Hyndburn accepts a panopticon, it will miss out on further funding.
Describing the five circular banks of earth as meaningless, he said: "This council will not be blackmailed. We are not going to provide something that is ridiculous on the basis we will lose funding. We are determined to draw investment into the borough for the right reasons.
"We're proud we have stuck out against proposals put forward because we are moving towards getting something acceptable to everyone."
He added: "The message we got was unless you accept something ridiculous you won't get funding for other things. Last time we said no to it and now we are getting something we might want."
The Cabinet said unless the £50,000 proposal reflected the people of Accrington, it would forgo the extra funding - which could be as much as £300,000 - to provide improvements such as woodland works in Arden Hall.
Councillor John Griffiths, cabinet member for corporate governance, said the Coppice should be left alone. He said: "It is Lancashire hill country, wild and rugged. I don't want to see anything on it."
Opposition Labour councillor Graham Jones said the council had not been blackmailed but without the panopticon other schemes would have to be sacrificed.