Should Grantham press on and get a statue built? Or should a referendum be held first to gauge the town’s view?
Labour district councillor Ian Selby believes the whole town should have a say on whether a statue is desirable. Coun Selby and Margaret Thatcher have history. Back in 2001 the councillor made national news when he appeared in an official council photograph wearing a Margaret Thatcher mask.
He said: “If such a controversial statue is to be erected outdoors here in Grantham then in my view the local people should have a referendum and a local debate on the issue to decide whether or not we should have one.
“Instead of it being imposed upon us by a small group of Conservative supporters, or even being told not to have one by any outside socialist mining community, let the local people decide what we should or should not have here in our town of Grantham.
“The cost of such a referendum can be reduced by holding it at the next district council elections. If freedom of speech and democracy has any meaningful value to us then this surely is not an unreasonable thing to ask.”
The next district council elections are not scheduled until May 2015.
The opinion of Conservative district and county councillor Ray Wootten was in high demand in the immediate aftermath of Baroness Thatcher’s death. He saw the worldwide interest it sparked first-hand and believes a statue would be good for the town.
Coun Wootten said: “Journalists from around the world who have visited Grantham over the past few years have said to me that they could not understand why a statue had not been built to recognise Lady Thatcher’s place in history.
“I am in favour of a statue, ideally situated in a prominent position in the town centre. Love her or loathe her, Lady Thatcher came from humble beginnings in Grantham and achieved a lot in her lifetime and we should honour that fact.
“Grantham should capitalise on its assets; just look at the Gravity Fields celebrations which attracted worldwide media coverage.
“A statue combined with a tourist trail would attract more visitors which could help the local economy.”
Coun Wootten said potential vandalism is “a risk we have to take”, pointing out the CCTV coverage in the town centre.
Helen Goral of GCHA agreed that while “we have to take advice on it and we will be mindful” vandalism concerns shouldn’t hold the statue plans back.
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