CALLS for the Yomper statue to be shipped from Eastney to its ‘spiritual home’ in Plymouth have today been branded ‘a pipe dream’ by a city council leader.
Councillor Donna Jones lambasted an appeal to uproot the iconic Falklands tribute 170 miles.
It currently sits outside the Royal Marines Museum, which closed last week and is expected to re-open at the city’s historic dockyard in 2020 following a multi-million pound makeover.
The Yomper could be uprooted from its prominent seaside position into the new museum as part of this move.
Now, photographer Peter Holdgate – whose 1982 picture of Corporal Peter Robinson inspired the statue’s design – has called for the famed landmark to be given a fresh start in his home city.
He said: ‘For something that was commissioned and erected in memory of the fallen during the Falklands War to be moved from a prominent position where everybody can see it, and hidden inside a dockyard or inside a dusty building, just defeats the whole object.
‘Moreover, the Royal Marines’ spiritual home is Plymouth.
‘The only reason that statue was erected in Portsmouth is because that’s where the Royal Marines Museum was.’
Depicting a Royal Marine marching across the Falklands, the Yomper has been a feature in Portsmouth since it was unveiled by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher on July 8, 1992.
However, over the past year the figure’s future has remained uncertain, with controversial proposals ear-marking it for a move inside the new Royal Marines Museum.
Museum bosses launched a consultation into the plans last year, which ended in February. Mr Holdgate’s plea has come outside of the official consultation period.
Officials from the museum have this afternoon stressed that ‘absolutely no decision’ has been taken about the Yomper’s future.
Cllr Jones added she backed community efforts to keep the Yomper in Eastney.
She said in the council’s last full council meeting, councillors agreed to pay for the maintenance of the statue if it remained in Eastney.
Speaking of Mr Holdgate’s claims, she said: ‘I’m not putting much credit to this suggestion.
‘As far as I am aware there has been no approach from the city council in Plymouth or from a charity or trust wishing to purchase the statue from The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN)
‘Many rumours circulate about such things and many of them are little more than pipe dreams.’
A spokeswoman for the NMRN said trustees were expected to meet in the coming weeks to mull over all potential options.
She added: ‘I can categorically say that absolutely no decision has been taken on the Yomper’s future.
‘During the consultation one of the suggestions from a member of the public was that (the Yomper) could be moved to the Commando training centre in Lympstone.
‘But that’s not an option we’ve agreed. I can categorically say nothing has been agreed.’
The latest Yomper campaign comes just days after the UK marked the 35th anniversary of the outbreak of the Falklands War on April 2, 1982.