Petition launched over Covid the Cobra’s permanent Stevenage home

PUBLISHED: 17:07 29 July 2020

Stevenage's residents voted on the new home for Covid the Cobra to be an underpass on Grace Way. Picture: Dawn Parnell

Stevenage's residents voted on the new home for Covid the Cobra to be an underpass on Grace Way. Picture: Dawn Parnell

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A petition has been started against the permanent location of Covid the Cobra – a snake made from more than 10,000 hand-painted and unique stones.

Eddie and Owen Parnell started Covid the Cobra on Stevenage's Grace Way. Picture: Dawn ParnellEddie and Owen Parnell started Covid the Cobra on Stevenage's Grace Way. Picture: Dawn Parnell

The brightly-coloured snake was started on Stevenage’s Grace Way cycle path by mum Dawn Parnell and her children Eddie, 10, and Owen, five, to bring some cheer during the coronavirus lockdown.

It caught the imagination of people all over the town, who added their own stones, and Dawn is currently waiting to hear if Covid the Cobra is a new Guinness World Record.

The stones are now in safe storage and Stevenage Borough Council will preserve Covid the Cobra in a Grace Way underpass, after the location was voted for in a public poll, winning by 200 votes against Fairlands Valley Park.

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Dawn, who voted in favour of the underpass location, says not all the stones will be used in the installation, due to limited space.

She explained: “As you can imagine, there are too many stones to put under the underpass. I am working closely with the council to confirm plans for various art projects on Grace Way, to ensure all suitable stones will be kept and restored into a beautiful art piece for us all to enjoy for many years to come.”

A petition has been launched online at change.org by Richard James, who said: “Covid the Cobra should be preserved at Fairlands so more people can appreciate it. Fairlands has wide open spaces, plenty of free parking, is very scenic and would work well to host the snake for all of Stevenage to enjoy.

“Grace Way is the wrong location for it. It is not an attractive area, you cannot conveniently park, and [the snake] will get vandalised.”

Eddie and Owen Parnell started Covid the Cobra on Stevenage's Grace Way. Picture: Dawn ParnellEddie and Owen Parnell started Covid the Cobra on Stevenage's Grace Way. Picture: Dawn Parnell

Resident Maddy Jones added: “The underpasses are not always the nicest places to visit. I think it will get vandalised and forgotten about. Fairlands Valley Park would have been a much better place for people to see it.”
But plenty of people in Stevenage support the underpass location. Stacey Wilkinson said: “I think it’s great it’s going to stay close to where it started,” and Sara Titmuss added: “People travelled to see it and place stones originally, so I’m sure they will travel to see it preserved.”

A borough council spokesman said: “We put it to the public to vote and the underpass won. We’re looking at options of the best way to preserve the stones, including how to prevent graffiti.”


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