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Thatcher statue lowered into place despite ‘egg-throwing’ threats

By Josh Payne
PA Wire

A statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher has been lowered into place in her home town despite past threats of “egg throwing”.

In February 2019, a planning committee unanimously voted in favour of the £300,000 statue – which was originally intended for Parliament Square in Westminster.

Despite its unveiling being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the statue was erected on a 10ft-high granite plinth in Baroness Thatcher’s home town of Grantham, Lincolnshire, on Sunday.

A statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher is lowered into place in her home town of Grantham (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Reports originally presented to South Kesteven District Council showed the statue was moved to the area due to fears of a “motivated far-left movement… who may be committed to public activism”.

After a large-scale £100,000 unveiling ceremony was approved by the council in 2020, a Facebook group proposing an “egg-throwing contest” at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people.

Around 2,400 others visited the Facebook page to say they would go to the event including “egg throwing … and potentially graffiti art”.

A CCTV camera has been installed directly opposite the memorial to attempt to combat any threats of vandalism, the council said.

Before planning permission was given to the statue, the only marking of Baroness Thatcher in the town was a plaque on the corner of North Parade and Broad Street to show where she was born.

Sculptor Douglas Jennings working on his statue of Margaret Thatcher (Douglas Jennings/PA) (PA Media)

A council spokesman said the Public Memorials Appeal, which funded the monument through donations, will host an official unveiling ceremony at a later date.

Leader of South Kesteven District Council Kelham Cooke said “we must never hide from our history”, adding it is “appropriate the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham”.

He said: “This memorial statue of the late Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be a fitting tribute to a truly unique political figure.

“Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage. She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here.

“It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham.

The statue was lowered onto the plinth on Sunday morning (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

“We must never hide from our history and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come.”

The statue, standing at just over 20ft high, will be situated in between two existing statues of Sir Isaac Newton and Frederick Tollemache in the town’s Civic Quarter.

Mr Cooke added: “We hope that this memorial will encourage others to visit Grantham and to see where she lived and visit the exhibition of her life in Grantham Museum.

“This is about inspiring, educating and informing people about someone who represents a significant part of Grantham’s heritage.”

The Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), an educational charity which manages Grantham Museum, spent a number of years raising money for a permanent memorial to Baroness Thatcher.

Graham Jeal, of the GCHA, said: “There has long been a conversation in Grantham about a more permanent memorial to the country’s first female prime minister who was an enormous political figure, both nationally and internationally.

“The delivery of the memorial has secured the museum for the next few years and has helped the museum finances survive the Covid pandemic.

“It is recognised that the full spectrum of views exist in Grantham about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and an exhibition inside the museum illustrates this.”

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