Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Plea to government over £4m Spitfire statue cash

Drawing of the statue Image copyright Nick Hancock
Image caption Standing 131ft (40m) tall, the statue features a replica plane larger than the size of the actual Spitfire plane and vapour trails

A national memorial to the Spitfire would be a "fitting tribute" to those who flew and worked on the World War Two fighters, an MP told Parliament.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith called on the government to fund a planned £4m memorial to the plane.

The memorial would feature a replica aircraft in Mayflower Park, overlooking Woolston where the plane was built.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said funding would be given "full consideration".

The planned 131ft (40m) stainless steel replica will be one-and-a-half times the size of the actual plane.

Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption The Spitfire memorial was discussed at a Westminster Hall debate

Mr Smith told a debate at Westminster Hall the plane was a "symbol of freedom".

"In a world divided and troubled, the Spitfire reminds us how we stood up against evil and we prevailed," he said.

Crowdfunding failure

The aircraft was designed by RJ Mitchell at the Supermarine Spitfire factory in Woolston.

Thousands of Spitfires - which played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain in World War Two - were built at the site.

The factory was also the reason much of Southampton was destroyed by German bombing during the war.

Mr Smith said the government's contribution could come from Libor fines levied over inter-bank lending.

Labour MP for Southampton Test, Alan Whitehead, and Eastleigh's Conservative MP Mims Davies also spoke in favour of a memorial.

Ms Ellison acknowledged the "passionate" comments during the debate.

"I do want to reassure all colleagues that should further Libor funding opportunities arise, any application from this the National Spitfire Project which falls within the published scope will of course be given full consideration along with other applications."

Attempts to raise funds for the statue via crowdfunding, after city council planners gave permission for it to be built in 2014, have to date failed to raise the cash needed.

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