A controversial £300,000 Margaret Thatcher statue is set to be approved despite concerns it will be a “likely target for politically-motivated vandals”.
South Kesteven District Councillors will next week hear recommendations to place the statue of the first female Prime Minister in Grantham, on a “sufficiently high plinth” and in easy view, in a bid to avoid it being attacked.
A report to members states that there is not felt to be any significant threat to the installation of the statue locally, but adds: “In general there remains a motivated far-left movement across the UK… who may be committed to public activism.
“It still remains that there is a possibility any public statue of ‘Baroness Thatcher’ would be a likely target for politically motivated vandals.”
The Bomber Command statue in London was targeted by vandals and sprayed with paint recently.
According to reports before the councillors on Tuesday, the statue, to go on St Peter’s Hill, will be placed on a 3.2 metre high plinth, and will be over 6.4 metres tall in total.
The application, by Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), which runs the Grantham Museum, has received 17 letters of objection to the proposals, mainly noting Mrs Thatcher’s position as a “divisive figure” and the potential of crime and disorder.
Supporters hope the statue will increase the town’s tourism offer and visitor numbers, though objectors worry that will mean increased traffic.
The application has been called in by committee member Coun Ashley Baxter, who said he felt it was a “contentious” decision.
“Whether this is an appropriate time or place to build a statue is something that needs to be decided by councillors, not officers.
“I can see both sides – why people might find the statue of such a divisive figure upsetting, but on the other hand it may be good for the economy of Grantham to have a further reason for tourists to visit.”
He added: “She has had an impact on British history over the last 50 years, and any studies since the 1950s not including Mrs Thatcher would be incomplete.”
Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) was born and raised in Grantham and attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University. Her father Alfred, a grocer, was Mayor from 1945 to 1946. She entered the House of Lords in 1992.
She was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
Plans to build the statue on Parliament Square, in London, were previously rejected by Westminster Council due to the fear of it being targeted by protestors.