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Outcry scuppers plan to move suffragette statue

Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst
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A controversial plan to move a statue of the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst from outside Parliament, in the centenary year of women getting the right to vote, has been shelved following a public outcry.

The statue has been in Victoria Tower Gardens since 1930, but the Emmeline Pankhurst Trust had wanted to move it to Regent’s University in Regent’s Park, three miles away.

However, the proposal was widely opposed. According to Westminster Council’s website all but four of the 236 comments on the plan were opposed to it.

Caroline Criado Perez, who among those to campaign against the move, said those who objected should be “proud” that the planning application had been withdrawn.

It had been submitted by the former Conservative MP Sir Neil Thorne, representing the Emmeline Pankhurst Trust.

It would have seen the statue moved to the “central forecourt of Regent’s University” and a replacement erected in Parliament Square.

The proposal said what while the memorial made “a positive contribution” to Victoria Tower Gardens, it made only “a limited and neutral to positive contribution” to the nearby area, and that its siting was there “purely the result of negotiation and bureaucracy in 1929”. The suffragettes had no historical connection with the immediate area, the application said.

Earlier this month, the shadow Commons leader, Valerie Vaz, encouraged MPs to support the protest against the move. “I think all members should object. It’s right the memorial should overlook Parliament,” she said.