January 24, 2018 / 11:46 AM / a year ago

Thatcher statue proposal rejected by Westminster planners

LONDON (Reuters) - A second attempt to erect a statue of Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher outside parliament, just six months after a first proposal was thrown out over vandalism fears, has failed after councillors rejected a revised plan.

FILE PHOTO: A picture of ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is seen on the wall inside the Ealing Conservative Association before the visit of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

They said the proposed statue of Thatcher wearing the robes of a member of the House of Lords was not the right depiction of Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

“We would welcome future proposals for a more appropriate statue of Baroness Thatcher, depicting her as Prime Minister, rather than the current design ..,” said Westminster planning committee chairman Richard Beddoe.

Thatcher, who ruled Britain from 1979-1990, died after suffering a stroke in 2013. She was the country’s first woman premier, its longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century, and won three consecutive national elections for the Conservative Party.

But her attempts to arrest Britain’s post-war decline by smashing the trade unions and privatising the country’s national assets made her a deeply divisive figure.

Another sculpture of her was decapitated in 2002 at Guildhall Art Gallery in London by a man who attacked it with a metal pole.

The plan had been to erect a life-size-and-a-half statue of Thatcher by sculptor Douglas Jennings in Parliament Square, alongside those of figures such as Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

To deter vandalism, it would have been erected on a climb-proof four-metre plinth which could have been quickly boarded up if needed.

Westminster council officials said objections had been received on the basis of possible vandalism, that the subject was too divisive to have a statue erected in her honour and that there was already a statue of Thatcher in the nearby House of Commons.

But the planning committee did not rule out approving future plans for a Thatcher memorial.

“Baroness Thatcher is a hugely significant figure in British history and in principle the council is in favour of a statue commemorating her in Parliament Square, but it must be the right statue, with an appropriate design and the support of her family,” Beddoe said in a statement.

The proposed new 300,000-pound work was commissioned by the Public Memorials Appeal charity after Thatcher’s death.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Michael Holden

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