A LAST-ditch plea has been made for more people to back a campaign battling plans to move the Yomper statue.
The fight to protect the Eastney landmark has been raging for almost a year and is nearing its closing chapter.
It comes after plans to move the iconic Falklands memorial from its prominent position outside The Royal Marines Museum into the historic dockyard were revealed.
The backlash of fury from residents prompted a consultation by the dockyard, who hoped the statue would move when the museum was relocated in 2019.
Now, as the consultation draws to a close, campaigners are asking people to make sure they have their say by signing a petition.
Marine Gate resident Phil Saunders, 70, has been organising the campaign, which has gained more than 3,000 signatures.
He said: ‘There’s huge support locally to keep the Yomper where it is.
‘People feel that it’s an iconic monument.
‘It’s part of the landscape and should never be moved.
‘The Yomper is a hero. The statue is of an ordinary man – not a commander or general .
‘But he was asked to do something extraordinary to serve the country and for that reason he has a particular attachment to the city.’
He added: ‘People deserve to be able to see the Yomper, freely. It shouldn’t be locked up inside a museum.’
The museum’s move to the dockyard has come thanks to a £2m boost from the government,
Artists’ impressions of what the statue could look like in the new facility have previously been revealed.
The consultation into the plan was launched in summer last year, and is due to finish at the end of the month.
Mr Saunders, who intends to hand in the petition to the dockyard before the consultation ends, said: ‘It is incredibly important that people have their say as there isn’t much time left.’
Officials at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard said no plans to move the Yomper were fixed in stone and are urging people to have a say.
A spokeswoman said: ‘We would just urge people to have their say and look forward to hearing their views.’
The proud tribute was commissioned by the Royal Marines and unveiled on July 8 1992, by Margaret Thatcher – on the 10 anniversary of the Falklands conflict.
To sign the petition, see change.org/p/professor-dominic-tweddle-keep-the-yomper-on-our-seafront or to sign the consultation, royalmarinesmuseum.co.uk/yomper