Grantham’s Margaret Thatcher statue has been officially unveiled during a small ceremony just days after it was targeted by vandals for a second time, leading to calls for it to be taken down. The memorial on St Peter’s Green was first installed on May 15, but since that time it has been surrounded by fencing, with the plinth covered in green sheeting.
During that time, the statue has been the target of eggs and graffiti. Although it has been restored and the statue fully revealed on Tuesday, there have been calls for it to be removed to prevent further damage. In the latest incident, Lincolnshire Police said officers received reports late on Saturday, May 28, of someone acting suspiciously near the statue and when officers attended they found graffiti had been sprayed on barriers around it.
All fencing has since been removed and the plinth unveiled during a small ceremony attended by Grantham dignitaries. Councillor Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council, said: “Following its installation on May 15 the memorial was expected to be a talking point and a focus for debate, attracting a range of opinions, and that has proved to be the case.
“Lady Thatcher polarised opinion in terms of her politics and her legacy but her achievement as Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century and the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should be recognised in her home town.”
One observer, Jonathan Green, 63, originally from Newark, said: “She’s not one of our favourite people and if we were in Grantham we probably wouldn’t want to see her on a daily basis, so I do understand why it upsets people. Having said that, in fairness to Margaret Thatcher, I think it’s fair to say that she had a lot more integrity than our current mob of politicians.”
And 77-year-old Noel Tinkler, from the nearby village of Old Somerby, said: “I’m glad that it’s finally up. Once it has been up a while I think all this vandalism will wear off, actually. We’ll have to see what happens but I think that people should try and see the good that she did rather than trying to get publicity by damaging the statue.”
Tony Garner, 65, from Lincoln, said: “I’m very happy it’s there. At the end of the day, people are just mindless idiots and it wouldn’t have worried Mrs Thatcher.”
Also in favour of the statue was Caroline Southgate, 79, who was visiting from Oxford with her husband Ray, 83. She said: “I think that a lot of the younger generation don’t understand Margaret Thatcher and that the times were very different then. As the country’s first female Prime Minister, I really hope that they keep up the statue of her.”
However, some commentators on social media thought the monument should be removed. One asked if “council taxpayers are going to foot the bill for the CCTV to watch your statue and to clean it?” And another said: “How long before it ends up in the museum to avoid it having an Edward Colston moment?”
The memorial was paid for by public donations to the Public Memorials Appeal, with a plaque on the statue’s plinth featuring a dedication to Ivan Saxton who founded the appeal. The egg-throwing incident happened just hours after the memorial was first installed on May 15, with the person behind it having now been fined £90 by police.
Lincolnshire Police says that inquiries remain ongoing into a second incident on May 28, which left the initial fencing around the statue damaged and the statue itself splattered with red paint. Officers said they were treating the incident as an act of criminal damage.
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