February 4, 2021 10.44 am This story is over 7 months old

Questions remain over Margaret Thatcher statue unveiling in Grantham

A breakdown of costs has been revealed – but clarity still needed

Opposition members at South Kesteven District Council say there are still questions to be answered over a proposed unveiling event costed at £100,000 for a £300,000 Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham town centre.

Independent Councillor Ashley Baxter, who called in a decision by leaders to underwrite the event for £100,000 resulting in it being brought back to cabinet on Tuesday, said he was “disappointed with a lack of answers”.

Reports revealed estimated costs totalling £109,490, including more than £50,000 on an “external events organisation”, £24,000 on “essential costs” and £35,000 on further staging and streaming.

Councillor Baxter said there were “legitimate questions about spending and procurement” and hit out at a decision to mute him during the meeting.

The 10ft plinth the 10ft Margaret Thatcher Statue will be placed in Grantham town centre. | Photo: Kylie Warrington

During a question, Councillor Baxter asked whether the external organisation would be appointed by an open and transparent tendering process, but added: “or will the council be using the recent Conservative tradition of awarding contracts to friends and family?”

Council leader Councillor Kelham Cooke took exception and asked him to retract his final comments.

Councillor Baxter did not retract his statement, however, following the meeting said he was not allowed to add any context as he was muted shortly after.

Councillor Baxter has now submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the authority.

Councillor Ashley Baxter, South Kesteven member for Market and West Deeping ward.

He said: “It is not the statue […] that irks me, nor the concept of an unveiling event, rather it is the nonchalant, arrogant and disorganised manner in which the Conservatives seem willing to commit residents’ money to underwrite the event”.

Councillors voted unanimously to move forward with the plans, and said scrutiny councillors would continue to be updated on the progress of the event.

A spokesman for SKDC promised there would be “further discussion”.

“SKDC Leader Councillor Kelham Cooke gave an assurance that those members who asked questions would receive responses in writing,” they added.

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