Breakdown of costs for unveiling of Grantham Margaret Thatcher statue revealed
A breakdown of the estimated £100,000 cost of a Margaret Thatcher statue unveiling event has been revealed by South Kesteven District Council (SKDC).
The £300,000 bronze statue of the Iron Lady, which will sit on a 10ft plinth, was brought to the town by Grantham Museum, SKDC and the Public Memorials Appeal.
SKDC’s leadership previously agreed plans to underwrite an estimated £100,000 unveiling, attempting to reassure critics the money would be recuperated through fund-raising. However, scrutiny councillors later called on the authority to show how that can be done.
An estimated £50,200 will go towards external events organisation such as production and account management, audio/media for guests, staging, seating, an unveiling mechanism and crew labour.
About £24,250 will include spending on public safety such as medical support, stewarding, barriers, road closures, refreshments and security.
There is also an optional cost of £35,040, which is not included in the £100,000, that could go towards a sound system, stage lighting, shelter for the seated area, a webpage with live streaming as well as filming and editing of the event and promotional material.
If this is included, the event has estimated cost of £109,490.
There will be a private fundraising appeal to raise money for the event and any surplus is hoped to go towards the statue’s maintenance, local projects and a donation to the Grantham Community Heritage Association, which runs Grantham Museum.
During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, council leader Kelham Cooke (Con - Casewick) told members he was “encouraged” following recent conversations with national party colleagues and donors by “the amount of money we were talking about”.
It is proposed that up to 50 seats will be offered at the unveiling event for the biggest donors – with more than 200 invited guests plus VIPs.
Details of the fundraising appeal are yet to be finalised and the unveiling will not happen until after the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the meeting, Coun Amanda Wheeler (LibDem - Stamford), asked why there is a rush given that the event is some way off. She added: “Take your time, raise the money privately and then have your party, which will be all the sweeter for not costing the public a penny.”
Also allowed to speak was Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind - Deeping), who was muted by the leader after refusing to retract a statement.
Coun Baxter said: “The appointment of the external management committee who are going to manage £50,000 at least, will that company be procured by a proper, open, transparent procurement process or will you be following the usual recent Conservative tradition of handed out a contract to friends and family?”
Coun Cooke said he was “alleging fraud by cabinet members to friends and family” and demanded he retract it.
Coun Baxter refused and was muted, with Coun Cooke calling him “incredibly rude”.
Coun Cooke earlier told the meeting: “The unveiling of the statue provides a unique opportunity to celebrate our heritage and harness national and international interest to promote South Kesteven, as a visitor destination and attracting investment, all of which support plans
to boost the local economy and regenerate the local area.”
In December 2020, Coun Baxter, an opposition member, requested a call in for the scrutiny committee to reverse the controversial decision by the Conservative leadership.