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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 15:30 GMT
US city wants Thatcher statue
An empty plinth is waiting for baroness's statue
A retirement town in Arizona has offered to take a homeless statue of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The 1.8-tonne sculpture of the baroness was commissioned for the members' lobby of the House of Commons.

But under ancient rules, it cannot be placed on its plinth until five years after her death.

Lake Havasu likes to be known for unique projects

Bonnie Barsness
Tourism chief

Now tourism chiefs in Lake Havasu City have offered it a home in their new city hall.

Bonnie Barsness, president of Lake Havasu Tourism Board, told BBC Radio 4' Today programme that the city "likes to be known for unique projects".

Thirty years ago, the city bought London Bridge, reportedly believing it to be the landmark Tower Bridge.

"Baroness Thatcher's statue would be a wonderful addition to our tourism project," Miss Barsness added.

Costs offer

She said a "spectacular" spot had been picked out for the eight-foot high marble statue in the city hall and its citizens would have no trouble recalling the former Tory leader because they were largely of retirement age.

And she said Lake Havasu City would be happy to pay to transport it to the US, insurance and for security while the statue was on loan.

Tower bridge
Story that Havasu City thought they had Tower Bridge is an urban legend

Labour MP Tony Banks, chairman of the House of Commons works of art committee, describes the sculpture - which includes her trademark handbag - as a "a fine piece of art".

He has been trying to change the rules so that the statue could go on display before Baroness Thatcher's demise.

Miss Barsness took the opportunity while talking to the BBC to dispel the rumour that Lake Havasu City - home town of movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger - bought London Bridge by mistake.

She said it is a myth but the city liked it because "it keeps the story alive".

See also:

24 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Lady Thatcher statue homeless
13 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Thatchers celebrate 50 years together
03 May 99 | Thatcher Anniversary
Mixed record of the Iron Lady
26 Apr 99 | Thatcher Anniversary
Thatcher: Après moi
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