May 31, 2022 5.19 pm This story is over 24 months old

‘Shameful vandalism of Thatcher statue needs to stop’

Official unveiling after weeks of controversy

Grantham residents have called for an end to ‘shameful’ vandalism of the Margaret Thatcher statue as it was officially unveiled on Tuesday.

The official ceremony saw the fences taken down with a small gathering of councillors, which was announced just hours before.

The three metre high statue now towers over St Peter’s Hill.

The lack of security is likely to cause concern for the statue, which has already been egged and daubed in red paint.

However, people who came to admire it today say it should be left in peace.

Andrea Hancock, who was seeing it for the first time, said: “The vandalism has been shameful. People caught doing it deserve everything they get.

“Mrs Thatcher was a formidable woman, and we need to remember remarkable people like her.

“It’s been terrible how people feel the need to vandalise it.

“The statue itself is quite becoming of the area. I wasn’t sure when I saw it on TV, but it looks much nicer in person. All it needs now is some benches to properly admire it.”

Andrea and Durnin Hancock want to see the vandalism to the Margaret Thatcher statue stop | Photo: The Lincolnite

Another resident said: “It’s been sad to see the vandalism that has gone on. The hammer and sickle in particular was too far – if people know many millions of deaths had been caused by communism, they might think again.”

Robert Daniels said he didn’t have a problem with the former Prime Minister, but wasn’t sure she deserved the prominent placement.

“A statue of Margaret Thatcher seems like more trouble than it’s worth. She’s just too controversial,” he said.

“Isaac Newton I can understand having a statue, as he was a genius who changed the world. I’m not sure Grantham is the right place for her though.

“I used to vote Conservative out of habit, but like many people I’ve got complicated feelings about it now.”

Another man said: “I don’t care about politics – I don’t want taxpayers to keep picking up the bill for cleaning it though.”

An invite for the 2.30pm ceremony went out to councillors at 12pm.

The event was hosted by the Public Memorials Appeal, who had organised donations for the statue.

Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister, was born in Grantham | Photo: The Lincolnite

South Kesteven Council leader Councillor Kelham Cooke hinted at the two acts of vandalism committed on the statue, and the controversy surrounding it.

“It is anticipated that the memorial will be a talking point and a focus for debate attracting a range of opinions, and that has certainly proved to be the case since it was lowered into place on May 15. I believe it will continue to be of interest for generations to come,” he said.

“There is no doubt that Baroness Thatcher polarised opinion in terms of her politics and her legacy, but as Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century and the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom she should be recognised in her home town.

“She was brought up and went to school here and I believe that the memorial will bring positive benefits for the town’s economy by attracting visitors who want to see where it all began for her.”

Councillor Lee Steptoe, leader of the Labour group, said the quiet unveiling proved it was unpopular.

“The fact it was about as low key as possible tells you everything that you need to know,” he said.

“I received an invite two hours before the event – I had better things to do though,” he said.

Security fencing has been removed around the statue | Photo: The Lincolnite

“I don’t condone vandalism in any form, but the problems have been absolutely inevitable. The opposition groups have warned for years it would happen. I’m sure it will continue in future.”

He urged politicians not to get distracted by the controversy surrounding the statue.

“The people don’t want to rake up the culture wars from 40 years ago. Whether you love her or loathe her, Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister a long time ago,” he said.

“They want us to focus on the problems that matter now, such as whether people can pay their gas bill or feed their kids.”

University worker Jeremy Webster has been fined £90 for the egging the statue when it was first put in place.

Lincolnshire Police are investigating an attack using red paint on Saturday night as criminal damage.