Grantham Labour group calls for Thatcher statue in town

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Media captionWhy Tories oppose Baroness Thatcher statue plan in her hometown

Labour councillors want cross-party support for a statue of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in her home town, Grantham.

The proposal is part of a plan to boost local tourism, they said.

The Conservative-majority South Kesteven council in Lincolnshire voted against the move on Friday.

Tory councillor Bob Adams said it was the "express wish of Baroness Thatcher that a statue not be erected" in the town.

Labour leader Charmaine Morgan said they wanted a statue in an appropriate place, with historical context.

She said the proposal would be discussed further in a meeting on Monday.

'Unseemly debate'

Ms Morgan said many women felt they wanted something to commemorate the UK's first female prime minister.

"This is very much local councils feeling very strongly that we should be putting aside our party politics for a moment, and we should be recognising it is an opportunity to bring revenue into our town.

"But that doesn't mean we accept [she] should be lauded", she said.

Mr Adams said plans were already in hand for a feature which would commemorate Lady Thatcher's life.

He described the current debate as "unseemly" while Lady Thatcher was still alive, and said the feature would not be a statue.

Statue decapitated

In February, Grantham Museum manager Jayne Robb was suspended for "erroneously" claiming the museum been offered a white marble statue of Margaret Thatcher, which was unveiled by the former prime minister in 2002.

The statue was decapitated in the same year at Guildhall Art Gallery, but later restored and put in storage at the House of Commons.

At present lady Thatcher is commemorated with a small plaque outside her father's former grocery shop in Grantham and with some exhibits inside Grantham Museum.

The 87-year-old has suffered from ill health in recent years and after a series of minor strokes in 2002 was advised by doctors to stop making public speeches.

She was the UK's first female prime minister and served three terms in that post, between 1979 and 1990.

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