Tower Hamlets council grants planning permission for statue of unknown builder to commemorate site fatalities

Construction union UCATT has received planning permission from Tower Hamlets council to erect a statue in the centre of London to commemorate construction workers killed on site.

The sculpture, which is being financed by the union, is to be placed in a public square close to Tower Hill Tube station.

The three metre-high statue will be of a unknown builder and was the brainchild of George Brumwell, the former UCATT general secretary, who died before Christmas.

A senior union source said the statue was to commemorate construction workers killed on site, and to celebrate the work of operatives across the country.

The source said that after much consultation with the mayor of London's office and Transport for London, the site for the statue had finally been agreed and planning permission had been granted.

David reincarnated as a builder?

David reincarnated as a builder?

A UCATT source said the design would be inspired by Michelangelo's David, although it is not entirely clear how this vision will be realised. He said that sculptor Alan Wilson had begun work on the statue and it would be ready within weeks.

It is understood that the mayor's office had offered numerous sites in London, including a location on the South Bank close to the Tate Modern, which was felt to lack sufficient prominence.

The source said: "We felt we wanted a site where the statue would be prominent and the site at Tower Hill will be clearly visible from the roadside."

It is understood the statue will be used as a focal point for Workers Memorial Day next month and will be used by safety campaign groups as a starting point for marches.

The site was also selected because Tower Hamlets has little public art, which made gaining planning permission easier.

UCATT's move comes in the midst of a debate about the merits of publicly funded art. A report by the think tank Policy Exchange this week claimed that government policy of using art in regeneration projects had created a culture of bad art. The report Culture Vultures: Is UK arts policy damaging the arts? says that politicians exaggerate the social benefits of art, and that arts suffers as a result.