Does Grantham want to put up a statue of Margaret Thatcher?
That was the oft-posed question being asked by news outlets around the world this week when, it appeared, the town had been offered an eight-foot, £150,000 statue of the Grantham born and bred woman who went to become Britain’s first female Prime Minister.
The story began when Grantham Museum manager Jayne Robb told BBC radio that the museum had been offered the white marble statue which could be brought up from London, cost permitting.
But yesterday Jayne Robb was suspended from her paid position. Museum spokesman Helen Goral told the Journal: “Jane informed BBC Radio Lincolnshire that the museum had been offered the statue but that is not the case. We have not been offered it at all.
“As a result Jayne has been suspended from all duties relating to the museum. She no longer speaks on behalf of the museum.”
However, the Journal understands that news of the suspension - which broke on the Journal’s website yesterday afternoon - also came as a surprise to Jayne Robb, who was waiting to attend a museum board meeting due to take place last night.
Despite repeated attempts, the Journal was unable to contact Jayne Robb for comment yesterday.
Museum board member Richard Davies said: “We have never been offered the Margaret Thatcher statue. Any suggestions we have are entirely erroneous.”
He added: “The general manager has been suspended following allegations which have been made. She has been suspended while investigations are being carried out. We cannot comment further on those allegations.”
Mr Davies would not comment on whether there was anything else other than the statue comments behind the suspension.
Remarkably, despite Jayne Robb’s situation, the museum volunteers still hold out a slim hope of bringing the statue to Grantham, although members admit their chances of doing so have been hindered severely by comments claiming a deal had already been done with the statue’s owners.
Miss Goral said: “There is a statue without a home and there is no reason why the museum could not look at doing something with it, but at the moment I think the cost implications are way beyond our reach.
“Moving the statue from London to Grantham would be quite costly and we could not afford to do it at the moment.”
Speaking to the Journal before her suspension, Jayne Robb said she thought it was “scandalous” that Grantham has nothing to mark Mrs Thatcher other than a blue plaque. When asked about the availability of the statue, Jayne had said: “It’s available.”