Visitors to Priory Park in Southend have slammed the local council for spending more than £50,000 on a ‘pointless gate.’

According to the local authority, the so-called ‘Portal of Possibility’ is an Arts Council-funded artistic installation by the local artist and sculptor Nathaniel Fuch-Weet, and it was placed in the park as ‘a reminder that in life there are some challenges that can simply be overcome by walking around them.’

Mr Fuch-Weet added: ‘I was given a set budget by the executive councillor for the arts and drainage to try and come up with something that juxtaposes the futility of existence with something else that you would probably find in an expensive thesaurus.’

’I don’t understand all of the negativity so far. Everyone I know has been very complimentary.’

However, a number of residents have complained, and 37-year-old mum of three Michelle Garridge told Southend News Network that the gate has become ‘a living nightmare.’

She said: ‘I have a rare form of obsessive compulsive disorder which means that I find it impossible to circumvent a gate, but unfortunately it is always locked shut and I also suffer from vertigo which means I keep getting stuck on top of it.’

’I’ve already had the fire brigade out three times this month.’

A spokesperson for Southend Council said: ‘We have commissioned a feasibility study to see if the portal could be adapted to open and close, but there are a number of health and safety factors to take into consideration as the gate has only been designed for Category 7 use.’

’Under local byelaws, this means that it can only be opened in an situation where an emergency vehicle needs to gain access.’