Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 15:36 UK

Bid for statue of RAF hero fails

Artist's impression of the model of Sir Keith Park
Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons during 1940 Luftwaffe attacks

A bid to place a permanent statue of RAF hero Sir Keith Park in London's Trafalgar Square has failed as the mayor backed existing site plans.

Campaigners wanted to honour Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith with a permanent statue on the square's fourth plinth.

Mayor Boris Johnson supported the bid before his election but on Tuesday he said the plinth would continue to be used for contemporary art.

He plans to put a temporary statue of Sir Keith on the plinth in 2010.

Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons which defended London and the South East from Luftwaffe attacks in 1940.

The bid to have him honoured with a permanent Trafalgar Square statue was supported by the party leaders in Sir Keith's native New Zealand.

Around 5,000 people signed a petition in favour of the move organised by the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign.

Design shortlist

However the mayor admitted last week that planning issues would make it "difficult" to put a permanent statue of Sir Keith on the fourth plinth.

On Tuesday he announced that the plinth's current rotating programme of contemporary art would continue "for the foreseeable future".

The next work to appear on the plinth will be announced later this month, chosen from a shortlist including designs by Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.

Mr Johnson added: "In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, why shouldn't Keith Park himself take a temporary place on the fourth plinth, while we search for a fitting permanent home for him?"

Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign organiser Terry Smith said: "I am delighted that the mayor has reaffirmed his commitment to seeing a statue of Sir Keith Park installed on the fourth plinth, albeit temporarily."

Mr Smith said he would continue to work with the mayor and "to find a permanent home for the memorial of a man who did so much to save London during the Battle of Britain".


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