Kiwi war hero in battle of the plinth

Last updated 22:34 30/05/2008

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Plans to place a statue commemorating Kiwi Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith Park in Trafalgar Square have hit a snag after London Mayor Boris Johnson said it would be difficult to secure a permanent spot.

The London-based campaign to have Sir Keith properly remembered in the country he helped save from Nazi invasion wants a six-metre bronze statue depicting him in his flying suit and helmet placed on the fourth plinth in the square.

The statue has been designed by a New Zealander and Wellington's Weta Workshop has been asked whether it can make it.

The fourth plinth is used for a rolling display of contemporary sculptures, but during the London mayoralty campaign Mr Johnson backed a memorial to Sir Keith.

However, in answers to written questions in the London Assembly, Mr Johnson said a Trafalgar Square site might not be possible.

"The fourth plinth ... would be a wonderful spot, but it now appears that complex planning issues would make it difficult to secure this location on an ongoing basis ...

"I am therefore exploring, with the Keith Park Campaign, what is the best option available for them in view of these circumstances."

Mr Johnson's answer indicates it may be difficult to gain planning consent for the statue from Westminster City Council, which administers the square.

Doubts about the statue's placement come as Defence Minister Phil Goff heads to London to meet Mr Johnson to discuss a permanent memorial on the site. Mr Goff was unavailable for comment.

London financier Terry Smith, who heads the campaign, welcomed Mr Johnson's comment that Trafalgar Square would be "a wonderful spot".

"We look forward to working to overcome any obstacles to achieving this and to see Sir Keith Park's statue on the fourth plinth."

 

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- The Dominion Post

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