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Plans to underwrite £100,000 cost of Margaret Thatcher statue party to be reviewed by South Kesteven District Council

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Plans to earmark £100,000 of taxpayers' money to cover the cost of unveiling a new Margaret Thatcher statue have been lambasted.

The 6.4m bronze tribute to the former Tory prime minister will stand on St Peter’s Hill Green in the centre of Grantham after positioning it in London was rejected in case it became a focal point for protests.

Towards the end of last year, South Kesteven District Council's cabinet decided to underwrite the cost of a £100,000 'party' to unveil the statue.

The plinth on which the Margaret Thatcher statue will stand in Grantham
The plinth on which the Margaret Thatcher statue will stand in Grantham

But today (Tuesday) councillors questioned why residents from other areas might have to pay.

Coun Amanda Wheeler (Lib Dem - Stamford) said: “I do not believe that we should be committing £100,000 of taxpayers’ money for an unveiling event which will be entirely party political in nature. Times are tough, budgets are down and people are struggling.

“It is beyond comprehension and quite frankly embarrassing that are district would sign off on a budget like this, particularly without proper scrutiny and questioning.”

The bronze statue by Douglas Jennings
The bronze statue by Douglas Jennings

Coun Phil Dilks (Ind - Deeping St James), said: “How have we become so out of touch with reality that we’re seriously thinking of staging a party costing £100,000 to unveil a statue when our priority ought to be assisting those who need help facing spiralling covid costs, rocketing unemployment and homelessness and the extra demand on local foodbanks.”

Coun Dilks asked “what has the unveiling of a statue in Grantham 30 miles away from Deepings got to do with my ward?”.

This was echoed by Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind - Market and West Deeping) who said: “Why haven’t the people of Grantham been consulted?

Coun Amanda Wheeler
Coun Amanda Wheeler

“And what about the other resident of South Kesteven? All the people who’ve spoken to me from the Deepings about the money being spent in Grantham how are they represented?

"Why is the statue not being funded from the Grantham special expense area, which is for issues which are based in Grantham?

"There’s very little benefit to a statue in Grantham to the people who live in Deeping St James, I would argue.”

Leader of the council Kelham Cooke (Con - Casewick) spoke of delivering "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to boost tourism and footfall" adding that although the cabinet has agreed to underwrite the cost, it should be met by private donations.

The unveiling - to be attended by a person of “significant national importance” - will not take place until after the pandemic.

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