A WATER feature that is the focal point of the £3.9m refurbishment of Swindon town centre was switched on yesterday.

The Canal Walk development began in August last year and has seen new paving, benches and interactive lights installed.

Councillor Garry Perkins, who is set to become deputy leader of Swindon Council with responsibility for regeneration in the town, said it was important to make public spaces attractive.

“We are delighted that the Canal Walk refurbishment is coming along so well and that the people of Swindon are able to enjoy their new surroundings,” he said.

“The importance of public spaces cannot be underestimated as it is the areas in between buildings, as well as buildings themselves, which leave people with an impression of the town and give it an identity. We want people to enjoy the shopping experience here and feel safe and comfortable as they do so.

“To that end we have encouraged good design and the careful use of high quality materials in order to make sure Canal Walk and indeed Regent Street stad the test of time.”

But some members of the public called the £240,000 installation a ‘waste of money’ and said they expected the feature would be used as a urinal by late-night revellers in the town centre.

Coun Perkins said: “It’s bound to happen to some extent, but you can’t stop things happening because of one or two people.

“Some people will like the feature and some people won’t but I don’t think that matters because it’s a talking point.”

Canal Walk is the second area of the town to undergo public realm improvement works following Wharf Green in 2008.

The next area the council plans to improve is Regent Street, where work is already under way. Final designs for the area, which runs on from the end of Canal Walk, include interactive lighting, new benches and trees.

There is also a plan to pay homage to the old trams that once travelled up and down the street with design features symbolising trams.

The majority of the funding for both projects came from the South West RDA with additional funding from the Government’s Growth Points fund.