Margaret Thatcher statue approved despite fears of vandalism and civil disorder

One councillor says sculpture should be placed in 'middle of a pond' to stop people climbing on it

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 06 February 2019 11:40 GMT
Head-to-head: How Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May compare

Rejected by London because of fears about vandalism and disorder, a controversial £300,000 statue of Margaret Thatcher will be erected in her home town of Grantham after a council planning committee voted unanimously in favour of it.

Standing at just over 20ft high, the bronze sculpture was originally supposed to be placed in Parliament Square in Westminster.

But now the tribute to the former prime minister, which will stand on a 10ft granite plinth because of fears of a “motivated far-left movement...who may be committed to public activism”, will be placed on St Peter’s Hill in the Lincolnshire town.

Those in favour of the application said she had put the area into “worldwide consciousness”.

Lincolnshire Police said they did not oppose the application but urged the committee to be cautious around the security of the statue.

Fears about it being vandalised were at the forefront of some of the councillors’ minds, with one suggesting the statue would be better placed “in the middle of a pond” to stop people climbing it.

But South Kesteven District Council chose to dismiss objections from the public, which included the potential for crime and disorder, a rejection of Thatcher’s divisive policies and the public cost of erecting it.

Currently, the only marking of the Iron Lady in the town is a plaque on the corner of North Parade and Broad Street to show where she was born.

The statue will be situated in between the two existing statues in the area of Sir Isaac Newton and Frederick Tollemache.

Sculptor Douglas Jennings' statue of Margaret Thatcher. Plans for the statue to be erected in Thatcher's home town of Grantham have been unanimously approved by South Kesteven District Council despite vandalism concerns.

Designed by sculptor Douglas Jennings, the statue was rejected by Westminster Council last year because it could have attracted “potential vandalism and civil disorder”.

But the Lincolnshire-based council decided to grant permission on the condition it is erected in the next three years.

A small number of Labour Party members from the area protested outside the Guildhall before the hearing, displaying banners such as Grantham Resident Against Maggie.

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The idea had 17 objections and seven people writing in support, with those in favour commenting on the prospect of an “enhancement to Grantham’s tourist offer”.

A report to the committee said: “In general there remains a motivated far-left movement across the UK (though not so much in Lincolnshire) who may be committed to public activism. Margaret Thatcher does however maintain an element of emblematic significance to many on the left and the passage of time does seem to have diminished that intensity of feeling.”

Councillor Charmaine Morgan said she would not vote on the application and spoke against it, saying: “It is currently being held in an out of sight, secret location. Perhaps it should stay there.”

But those in favour questioned why it had taken so long for the statue to be brought to the town.

“Very few towns can claim a prime minister,” one supporter said, adding: “Grantham should be proud.”

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