DD2132 Commission of a Suffrage Statue on Parliament Square

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
09 June 2017
Decision by: 
Jeff Jacobs, Head of Paid Service

Executive summary

Under cover of MD2045, approval was given to seek artistic proposals for a potential statue to commemorate women’s suffrage. Women's suffrage was a movement to give women the right to vote. It finally succeeded through two laws in 1918 and 1928. 2018 is the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave all men and some women the vote for the first time paving the way for gender equality and equal rights. This centenary will be celebrated across the UK and this Decision requests the approval for expenditure relating to the potential commissioning of  a Suffrage statue on Parliament Square. Currently Parliament  Square is the site of 11 statues representing the UK’s political history, but none of these statues represent women or were sculpted by women. A high profile campaign calling for a statue to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage has garnered significant support across the country and the Mayor pledged his support for the campaign on 11 May 2016. The Mayor has constituted an Advisory Panel to ensure a high quality artistic commission by a female sculptor. In April 2017 the winning commission was announced as a statue commemorating Millicent Fawcett by British artist, Gillian Wearing. This statue will complement other significant projects throughout 2018 celebrating the Act, and will be further supported by educational activities and resources, to inspire the next generation and future generations.


That the Executive Director of Communities & Intelligence approves:

  • Expenditure of £12,000 in sundry costs related to this project.
  • Expenditure of £34,000 and entry into a contract with Donald Insall Architects.
  • Expenditure of £21,500 and entry into a contract with Contemporary Arts Society.
  • Expenditure of £15,000 and entry into a funding agreement with Gillian Wearing.
  • An exemption from Part C, Paragraph 9 of the Contracts and Funding code so that Donald Insall Architects and Contemporary Arts Society can be appointed without a competitive procurement exercise.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1     2018 will mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. The Act of 1918 gave some 
women the vote for the first time and paved the way for the introduction of universal suffrage 10 
years later, which saw women win equal voting rights to men.

1.2    A public campaign calling for a statue commemorating women’s suffrage in Parliament Square, and as a fitting tribute to the centenary, has so far resulted in 85,000 signatures. 

1.3    The GLA Culture & Creative Industries team has worked with stakeholders to provide structure and 
guidance on the commissioning and delivery process of a statue on Parliament Square which has 
resulted in a proposed statue design and initial design work on the site. 

1.4    The GLA will continue to lead the commissioning and delivery of the sculpture, working with campaigners, relevant charities and other organisations working on celebrations of the 1918 centenary. This will include the management of finances pertaining to the sculpture, procurement of architects and planning consultants to submit a planning application.

1.5    MD2045 previously approved expenditure of £25,000 to commence planning for a sculpture to commemorate women’s suffrage, to be unveiled in 2018 to mark the 100 year anniversary of suffrage for women over 30. This expenditure has contributed towards the commissioning of 12 outline proposals from artists for the Suffrage statue.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1  Under cover of MD2045 the Culture & Creative Industries team appointed Donald Insall architects to   
undertake a report into the feasibility of erecting a sculpture in Parliament Square to mark the   
centenary of women’s suffrage and engage with the Westminster City Council planning team. 

2.2    The GLA has been partnering with 14-18NOW in the initial phases of this project, approved under cover of MD2045. Since the project started, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her support for the statue and government funding from a £5 million dedicated fund for the celebration of the centenary of the act. This decision requests approval of expenditure of up to £82,500 of GLA funds so that work can continue on delivering the statue by the deadline of 6th February 2018. There will be a subsequent final funding agreement with Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). 

2.3    Key stakeholders supporting the project include: Westminster City Council Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), English Heritage, Tate, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Contemporary Art Society and Arts Council England. An Art Advisory Panel is in place chaired by Justine Simons. Members include: Tamsin Dillon, 14-18 NOW Curator; Jenny Waldman, Director 14-18NOW; Caroline Criado-Perez, OBE, Campaigner, Melanie Keen, Director, Iniva, Sally Shaw, Director Firstsite Colchester.

2.4    The GLA Culture & Creative Industries team has selected the artist Gillian Wearing to develop a commission for the statue on Parliament Square and as such approval is requested to enter into a funding agreement with Gillian Wearing worth £15,000. 

2.5    A further £12,000 will be required to meet costs which may include administration costs, meetings and or events support, travel to visit production facilities, various marketing costs which may include producing documents and visualisations, CAD drawings and  research time.  it is difficult to budget for the exact amount required until planning application is granted but it is expected that of the total £12,000 requested it is likely this will be made up of numerous items of lower value expenditure.

2.6    The Contemporary Arts Society will support the GLA by providing consultancy services and with the production of all required art work. The value of the contract with Contemporary Arts Society will be £21,500. Officers are requesting an exemption from Part C, Paragraph 9 of the Contracts and Funding code so as to appoint Contemporary Arts Society without a competitive procurement exercise, because:

•    Contemporary Arts Society are unique in their ability to provide the services required as they both specialise in, and, have extensive technical knowledge and expertise in working with architects, designers, local authorities and property developers in developing and managing commissions of public art.

2.7    The services provided by the Contemporary Arts Society to the GLA will include: acting as the artist liaison and assistance in the concept development, fabricator and supplier liaison (pre-planning), detailed design (pre-planning) pre-planning consultation and planning administration. They will also provide the same services in the project management stage as well as; managing the installation and technical integration in the delivery phase of this project.

2.8    Officers are also requesting an exemption from Part C, Paragraph 9 of the Contracts and Funding code to appoint Donald Insall Architects without a competitive procurement exercise, and up to a value of £34,000, to provide planning application support and for fees associated with the delivery of the project (if the planning application is successful). It is expected that initial costs will be £6,000 for support up to the planning application being submitted. 

2.9    The remaining expected costs of £28,000 include: the management of the site and all contractors required to ensure efficient delivery of the project, technical consultations regarding all aspects of the site if the planning application is approved and liaising with and managing surveyors and with the local authority in relation to the project. GLA officers will ensure that within the agreement entered into with Donald Insall Architects, it is clear that the expenditure of the remaining £28,000 is dependent on the planning application being approved.

2.10    The Contracts and Funding Code exemption is being sought because:

•    Donald Insall Architects have substantial previous experience, expertise and specialist knowledge  
of the complex nature of the planning restrictions that apply specifically to Parliament Square. The   
planning regulations which apply to Parliament Square are far more restrictive than standard   

•    Donald Insall Architects previously worked with officers within the GLA Culture & Creative Industries Team in producing a feasibility study into the viability of the statue in Parliament Square. This coupled with the point above make it very difficult to separate the new proposed services from the previous services provided, due to their intimate knowledge both of the project and of Parliament Square planning regulations.


Equality comments

3.1    Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due Regard’ of the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

3.2    The wider programmes activities undertaken by the Culture and Creative Industries team take equality into account in all aspects of developing and delivering projects. The Suffrage statue project in particular celebrates the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, recognising and celebrating the campaign by prominent women for gender equality and equal rights. The statue will link to a nationwide campaign which highlights gender equality and the role women have played in the leadership and politics of the country. 

3.3    The Culture and Creative Industries team will ensure that any organisations or partners on any of the work streams detailed above have firm and robust equality policies in place at their organisations and are committed through their funding agreements to proactively apply the principles of the Equality Act 2010, and to regularly refresh their equality and diversity policies and practices.

3.4    While it is generally the case that engagements are not undertaken with gender restrictions imposed, the subject matter of this commission means that reserving this commission to a female sculptor is appropriate.

Other considerations

4.1          The commissioning of this statue to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 
1918 and women’s suffrage in particular. It will link specifically to the Mayor’s Culture Strategy as a 
deliverable to encourage awareness of London’s public art, architecture and urban design by 
creating high-quality and memorable visual artwork. 

4.2          The statue will join other sculptures of high profile and celebrated figures of both cultural and 
historical importance which includes Winston Churchill and Mahatma Ghandi among others, and 
celebrates individuals who have had a significant cultural impact on the UK.

4.3          The educational programme that will be developed and delivered alongside the proposed statue to 
mark the centenary of women’s suffrage, will increase  the awareness of what was a major cultural and historical moment, both in London and Britain’s heritage. In London this will be linked to the Mayor’s London Curriculum. 

4.4      Risks and potential issues to this programme:

Risk description

Mitigation / Risk response

Current probability (1-4)

Current impact (1-4)


GLA risk owner

Planning permission is not granted for the statue.

GLA Officers are working closely with Westminster Council regarding the planning application and permissions.


The GLA will not commit to the remaining larger project costs until planning permission is granted.




Culture & Creative Industries Team

Financial comments

5.1    Permission is being sought to approve expenditure of up to £83,000 to mark the centenary of Women’s suffrage in London by commissioning a suffrage statue in Parliament Square.  

5.2    As an artist has already been commissioned to create the statue, the majority of this expenditure will be used to procure the services of Gillian Wearing, Donald Insall Architects and the Contemporary Arts Society for the planning application.

5.3    The expenditure will be met from the Culture and Creative Industries 2017-18 budget and subsequently managed within this unit.

Planned delivery approach and next steps



Planning application submitted

June 2017

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