Aviva: new name, same
(as published in West Sussex
County Times 23.01.2009)
Since publication we have heard that our campaign
has been successful: Aviva have commissioned a new
plinth with moving water. Read Aviva's letter to
the Horsham Society
cannot have failed to see the recent TV advertisements
featuring famous celebrities who have changed their
names. They are part of an expensive rebranding of the
old and trusted Norwich Union as part of an exciting
international brand – Aviva.
Why is this of interest to us in Horsham? Norwich
Union, now Aviva, is the owner of Swan Walk shopping
centre. It was Norwich Union that promised the return
of Lorne McKean’s much loved swan sculpture. That was
well over a year ago, yet the situation remains
Last summer, after many reminders, the sculpture was
returned without its plinth and essential moving
water. For some months it has presented a sorry
picture perched on a ugly low box. The sculpture is
supposed to depict swans landing on water, not a box.
Aviva has clearly failed to deliver on its promise.
The Horsham Society has tried to establish what is
going on. We wrote to Aviva and the Swan Walk
management in December to express the concern of our
members and ask when the sculpture would be fully
restored. Aviva did not reply. The local manager told
us that she had had difficulties in identifying a
suitable design for the plinth. Odd you might think,
since there was nothing wrong with the original
This led us to suspect that Aviva is not going to
restore the moving water. A direct question to Swan
Walk management about when the sculpture will be fully
restored and whether they would confirm that it will
include running water has not been answered. Neither
has there been any response from Aviva.
Our correspondence with Aviva and Swan Walk can be
viewed on our web site
(follow the links below).
In the scale of things, with markets crashing and
retailers closing, one might be forgiven for thinking
this is a relatively trivial issue, but it is not. It
is a matter of honesty and trust.
It is a story, all too common I suspect, of absentee
landlords with no interest in the communities within
which they operate. Aviva is proud to tell us it is a
international company. Swan Walk is managed on Aviva’s
behalf by Jones Lang LaSalle another multinational
based in Chicago. They proudly state they are “in
business to create and deliver real value for clients,
shareholders and our own people”. No mention, you
note, about communities or the public realm.
The current position is untenable and is an insult to
the sculptor and the people of Horsham. Those with the
power to solve the problem, and re-establish faith in
their brands, are a long way away and with their
multinational perspective Horsham is probably just an
irritating pinprick. But we are not going to let the
matter rest until the swans are fully restored to
their former glory and past promises honoured.