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MP proposes 'sculpture cemetery' in Thanet for unwanted statues, including Bristol's Edward Colston


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An MP from Thanet has proposed his constituency as a final resting place for unwanted sculptures all over the country, after Black Lives Matter protesters threw a controversial slave trader statue into Bristol Harbour last weekend.

Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, has approached Thanet District Council with the idea, and is hoping they will assist in finding an area where controversial statues from across the country could be collected and displayed for educational purposes.

Craig Mackinlay being given a preview of Dominic Grant’s sculpture of George IV
Craig Mackinlay being given a preview of Dominic Grant’s sculpture of George IV

Mr Mackinlay said: "From Saddam Hussein to Karl Marx, Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi to a currently soggy Edward Colston from Bristol, all could have a new lease of life with appropriate historical context and educational focus, whether loved or despised.

"This could become a significant tourist attraction and I have identified land on the Westcliff, next to the boating pool, as a perfect underused site for such a new scheme."

Mr Mackinlay has taken inspiration from other similar statue cemeteries across the world, including one in Lao, in south east Asia.

He said: "The idea is not a new one with many such sites around the world serving as a resting place for the unloved, unfashionable or truly despised.

"They have become significant and successful visitor attractions."

The Westcliff Promenade, where Mr Mackinlay has suggested as a possible location for the statue cemetery. Picture: Google Maps
The Westcliff Promenade, where Mr Mackinlay has suggested as a possible location for the statue cemetery. Picture: Google Maps

One such park in Lithuania is called Grutas Park, and is home to hundreds of sculptures of Soviet figures such as Lenin and Stalin.

He added: "With a new surge of historic revisionism taking hold, why not create something bold in Ramsgate, giving a new home for unloved statues from around the world, and a new opportunity for domestic ones as well which might well be looking for a new home?"

Commemorative statues across the country have been at the centre of intense debate this week, as Downing Street told police they must take the decision whether to intervene if anti-racism protesters try to forcibly remove them.

Downing Street said it is an operational decision for forces to make, after police in Bristol stood back to allow protesters to rip down the monument to slave trader Edward Colston.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was reported to have had a 'firm' discussion with Avon and Somerset Police’s chief constable, Andy Marsh, over the decision.

The South Thanet MP's proposal follows his recent comments condemning the actions of protesters defacing sculptures as part of anti-racist protests.

Mr Mackinlay wrote on his website: "The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has, quite correctly, attracted international condemnation and so it should.

"His death was unacceptable but this is surely an issue for the citizens of the State of Minnesota and the people of the USA.

"I therefore find the actions by some in London truly incoherent to the aim of eliminating racism by their desecration of the Cenotaph and the defacement of the statues of Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square."

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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