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'Save our bear' sculpture campaign begins in Bristol

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image captionThe sculpture, created by artist Jamie Gillman, was unveiled in 2013 by former mayor George Ferguson

A campaign has been launched to try to prevent a giant sculpture of a bear being removed from a city centre area that is prone to anti-social behaviour.

Bristol City Council wants to remove Ursa the Bear from the "Bearpit" beneath St James Barton Roundabout, as part of a scheme to improve the area.

The 12ft (3.5m) sculpture, created by artist Jamie Gillman, was unveiled in 2013 by former mayor George Ferguson.

Some 830 people have signed a petition calling to save it.

It requires 3,500 signatures for it to be debated by full council.

Councillor Asher Craig said: "Following a rise in anti-social behaviour and targeted attacks in the Bearpit we decided that the council would take more control over the space earlier this year.

"We acknowledge that over the last seven years a lot of good work has gone into improving the Bearpit, but problematic issues of anti-social behaviour, street drinking and drug use have remained and had become significantly worse."

'Must be saved'

She said the operating licences of two groups that look after the area - the People's Republic of Stokes Croft and the Bearpit Improvement Group - had been "ended", and they had been asked to "responsibly recover all of their remaining possessions in the area to allow us to fully regenerate this space".

The groups have been given until mid-January to recover those items, which include the bear sculpture, as well as shipping containers and storage units.

Save Our Bear petition organiser, Caitlin Telfer, said: "We hope that the people of Bristol will agree that Ursa must be saved."

"Ursa bring smiles to our faces, she represents creativity, alternative thinking and freedom of expression.

"She represents community and what public space should be."

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