A £300,000 statue of Margaret Thatcher could be just weeks away from installation as council workers make the final preparations to the stone plinth in Grantham town centre.
Faced with animosity and threats to damage the statue – created by sculpture Douglas Jennings – the council has been coy to confirm details, noting to press this morning that the memorial was “due to be unveiled later this year”.
However, sources close to the authority have told the Local Democracy Service that the statue could be installed as soon as Sunday, May 15.
It is understood a big ceremony is planned to take place in the last week of May to unveil the statue with the authority’s leaders sending invitations out.
The source said the preparatory work being carried out from today included anti-graffiti measures.
In response to the claims, a spokesman for the council said only that: “The situation is that there is no confirmed date for the installation.”
A press statement earlier today said the Grantham Community Heritage Association (the educational charity that runs Grantham Museum), the Public Memorials Appeal charity and South Kesteven District Council remained in discussion about details of the final unveiling.
The work on the 10ft granite plinth is the next stage of the project according to council bosses.
Once complete, the plinth will again be covered and the fencing around it returned.
Progress on the memorial to the Iron Lady, originally passed in February 2019.
Plans to erect it in Parliament Square had previously been rejected by Westminster Council.
The build, however, was delayed following the installation of the plinth in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It has divided people both locally and across the country, with many of her detractors suggesting angry demonstrations at the site, as well as sparking fears the statue will be a target for protests and possibly even damage or removal attempts.
The danger is part of the reason the plinth is so tall, and the area is covered by as many CCTV cameras as possible.
The unveiling event itself became a source of controversy after it emerged that the council was proposing to underwrite the estimated £100,000 the ceremony would cost with taxpayer money, taken from the authority’s reserves.
That decision, which drew anger from local residents and opposition councillors, who described it as ‘nothing more than a party,’ was reversed at a council meeting in March.
Baroness Thatcher was the UK’s first female Prime Minister.
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 town mayor from 1945 to 1946.