There was fierce backlash over the weekend after it was revealed South Kesteven District Council plans to spend up to £100,000 to unveil a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham town centre.
The authority’s cabinet on Tuesday will be asked to authorise the spend to underwrite the unveiling event for the £300,000 bronze statue of the Iron Lady — with fundraising potentially being carried out by public, businesses and others.
It will be put on a 10ft (3.2m) high plinth to deter vandalism, making it over 6.4 metres tall in total.
Hundreds of people responded to the story on social media, with many criticising the spend.
David Coulbeck asked: “What is the council thinking of £100,000 on a bust of the woman who crippled the UK? In these times the money could be much better spent.
“The public should have been consulted first, after all it is their money that the council are spending.”
Phil Thomson commented: “To consider spending this much taxpayers money on such an action as this is abhorrent.
“What goes on in the meeting where such a proposal as this is put forward? A spending review is needed. Due to Tory policies in this vile and cruel politicians tenure, people continue to suffer.”
Allan Binns said: “This is bloody disgusting, the woman literally took milk from children, then closed mines, then decided that it was ok to tax a poorer person the same as a millionaire.
“Reduced budgets in social care when I was in care and was abused because there wasn’t the finance to give adequate care from a social worker.
“Be ready for this ‘monument’, to be damaged continually, not by me, I hasten to add.”
Lee Cox was not impressed either: “I’m in absolute disbelief, and at the same time despair, that they could get this cold and callous.
“They have secured £400,000 of taxpayers money — our money — they could use it to help people living in poverty and/or many other good things, but instead they choose to use it to 💩 on us all from a very great height. I hope the bloody thing falls over and crushes them 😡”
Samantha Jeffery also said: “£300,000 on the statue, then £100,000 on the unveiling — how is it that much? Are they flying Lady Gaga and U2 in for the entertainment?!
“So the best part of half a million pounds just to put a giant single finger up at all those currently loosing their jobs, their businesses, their homes and livelihoods due to this incompetent government… it would be a joke if not so sad!”
Some even suggested, perhaps sarcastically, that they would be willing to do the job themselves or hand out the tools to damage the monument.
A Facebook event for an “Egg throwing contest” at the Grantham states in February has had more than 7,100 responses.
Some comments have been more understanding of Thatcher’s connection to the town and her potential influence in encouraging more women into politics.
Andrew Rudd said: “Not my choice of a suitable way to spend public funds, and I detested her in all ways due to the way she ran the country.
“However as the first female PM and of Grantham I can see that a statue can be justified.”
Others leapt to her defence. Philip Mark Bristow said: “Money well spent on Britain’s greatest peace time Prime Minister.”
Paul Sansum said: “Great prime minister, only the left hate her. Made us proud to be British, she did not bend her knee to the rabble.
“Miners and other unions used to bring chaos to our lives; she stood up to them.
“Poll tax was a great idea, the mistake was letting councils decide how much, should have been the same for everyone and councils made to manage on that amount.
“I can never understand the venom that some people have for the first woman prime minister.”
The statue has not only attracted local but national attention including a response from satirical online magazine The Poke who put together a list of humorous responses to the news.
— The Poke (@ThePoke) November 29, 2020
Political blogger Rachael Swindon contrasted the spend with a local food bank being forced to supply 39 tonnes of food in one year.
“That £100,000 would be enough to buy every single resident of Grantham their very own toothbrush, twice over, with enough change to purchase thousands and thousands of tins of essential foods,” she said.
“They could even afford to throw in a few mince pies as a seasonal gesture of goodwill.”
The council has attempted to defend the story, pointing out that it hopes the money will be raised independently.
However, opposition member Ashley Baxter said the report “seems pretty clear that the Conservatives are happy for [SKDC] to pick up the tab”.
Market Deeping Town Councillor Adam Brookes said “There is no guarantee as to the level of outside funding that will be secured, leaving SKDC funding any gap.”
Here are some more responses from Twitter:
— Charlie Fisher ✨ (@charlief_music) November 28, 2020
Boris Johnson is still prime minister and they are still putting up a statue of Thatcher.
— Chris Pemberton (@Kavanna1985) November 30, 2020
Me rolling up to the Thatcher statue: pic.twitter.com/854lYElTeN
— All Watched Over By Machines of Drum and Bass (@bartlebooth45) November 28, 2020
im sure people will remember how great margaret thatcher was once we finish setting up this 20 ft electric fence around her statue to prevent further vandalism
— ☠️ HAPPY ☠️ (@happyroadkill) November 29, 2020
In 2003, David Blaine locked himself in a box suspended 30 feet in the air and starved himself for weeks. The British public responded by dangling a burger in front of him via remote control helicopter.
That statue of Thatcher on a 10 foot plinth won't last a week.
— Dai Lama (@WelshDalaiLama) November 28, 2020
Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) was born and raised in Grantham and attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University.
Her father Alfred, a grocer, was mayor from 1945 to 1946. She entered the House of Lords in 1992. She was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
Plans to build the statue on Parliament Square, in London, were previously rejected by Westminster Council due to the fear of it being targeted by protestors.