Councillors vote to review £ 100,000 proposals to unveil the Thatcher statue in Grantham

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The decision to finance the event has revived controversy about the wisdom of erecting a statue in the birthplace of the former prime minister.

Councillors in the hometown of Margaret Thatcher have voted to amend proposals for a £ 100,000 unveiling ceremony for the former Prime Minister’s statue.

The cabinet of the District Council of South Kesteven had previously agreed to provide support for the case, which is due to take place this year in Grantham, Lincolnshire, with the hope that through donations they will be able to recover the money.

But the Culture and Visitor Economy Committee of the Council voted to order the Cabinet to reconsider the decision to provide more information on the expense of the case.

The motion to further review the cabinet’s decision was made by Paul Fellows, an independent council member and member of the committee.

He said, “Our decision as an investigative committee was to look at the procedural process.”

It was not a matter about whether we should have the statue or not. The Planning Board had already reached the decision and voted on it.” Fellows had expressed doubts about whether the Cabinet had followed proper procedures and made a successful motion that “the Cabinet should come up with a justification as to why they feel this is a fair decision.

Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), which operates the Grantham Museum, and the District Council of South Kesteven collaborated with the Public Memorials Appeal to prepare a 2019 authorised planning application for the statue.

After plans to install it in Parliament Square in central London were refused by Westminster City Council in 2018, the 3.2-meter-high bronze statue was offered to the district council because councillors worried that it would draw protests.

The statue was paid for by the Public Memorials Fund, a charity that seeks to commission historically significant figures to commission and install memorials.

Via the GCHA Margaret Thatcher Appeal, money raised would help deliver the statue. There was no public money included.

The decision of the council to finance a £ 100,000 unveiling ceremony reignited controversy about whether the statue should be erected at all.

“I think it’s embarrassing that the county council is even considering spending £ 100,000,” said Liberal Democrat councillor Amanda Wheeler.

It’s so out of line with where we are right now as a county.
Wheeler said the council had taken special steps in a new report on the housing crisis in Grantham, and it also planned to “spend £100,000 on salmon, caviar and champagne.”

She added: “I can understand the statue being in Grantham, not that I approve of it, and I’m not going to question it, but under no circumstances should we have this big celebration.”
Members of the public logged in using the names Arthur Scargill and John Major at a public meeting to address the ceremony – held via Skype on Tuesday.

“Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan, who resigned to oppose the proposed statue as a member of the planning committee in 2019, said: “It feels like the council is fiddling while we burn. They want this huge ‘feel good’ event while thousands of people are struggling to put food on the table in our district.

I think their goals are all wrong.
Amanda Schonhut, the fundraising director for the Grantham Museum, run by the Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), has previously said the city continues to be divided by the issue. “It was a bit of a mini-Brexit,” she said.

Council chief Kelham Cooke called it, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “a unique opportunity to boost tourism and raise the profile of Grantham.”

He said, “I have already received several expressions of interest in donating toward the cost of the event, which is a great vote of confidence in us,”

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