Outrage after bid to steal Eric Morecambe statue

The Eric Morecambe statue has been taken away for repairs after somebody tried to steal it.

Police said the culprit tried to saw through the standing leg of the bronze statue of the Morecambe-born comic legend.

The stricken Eric Morecambe statue in the back of a council van after it was damaged in an attempted theft. Photo by Greg Lambert.

The stricken Eric Morecambe statue in the back of a council van after it was damaged in an attempted theft. Photo by Greg Lambert.

Lancaster City Council later removed the statue, which was unveiled by the Queen in 1999, for safety reasons.

It will be repaired and returned to its rightful spot on the seafront, but there is no indication of how long this will take.

A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted theft.

Residents and tourists alike have been left shocked and furious at the attack on the iconic landmark to Eric, one half of the comedy double act Morecambe and Wise.

Police were called just before noon on Saturday to Marine Road Central following reports from a member of the public that the statue had been damaged.

Crowds looked on as the heavy statue was lifted by four council staff onto a van using a makeshift ‘stretcher’ made out of a control barrier.

Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, was on site to supervise as ‘Eric’ was driven away, face down in the back of the council van.

“This morning we had a report there had been some damage to the statue,” said Mr Cullinan.

“When we got to the site it was clear someone had sawed through most of Eric’s leg and then left him like that. When we inspected it we knew we couldn’t repair it at the site.

“We’re removing him in a van and taking him to a safe and secure place, and will work with the sculptor (Graham Ibbeson) to get him back as soon as possible.

“The police have been very supportive and are going to arrange for some notices to explain what has happened.

“Already we’ve seen some anger from tourists and local people, and I think the general feeling is one of disbelief.”

Graham Ibbeson, sculptor of the statue, called it a “moronic act” while David Morris MP said it was “awful”.

As news spread that the statue had been attacked, crowds began to arrive at the site on Morecambe Promenade, where just the statue’s ‘standing foot’ remains, covered by a crash barrier and police tape.

Jack Holmes from Morecambe said: “It’s devastating, isn’t it?

“This statue is the town’s pride.”

Another onlooker said the attack on the statue was “sacrilege”.

Visitor readers flocked to social media to express their outrage at the attempt to steal the monument to the late TV star, which was built in 1999 following a campaign by our newspaper.

Coun Tracy Brown, from Morecambe Town Council, said: “We have a very large supportive community trying to move Morecambe forward with carnivals, festivals and creative ideas.

“People put hours of voluntary time into lifting this town to a better future. We have been let down by this disrespectful act to our community.”

Graham Aimson called it “an unjust crime against Morecambe”.

Sean O’Connor said: “This is a big issue now for us, I’m shocked, angry and sad.”

Simon Fisher said the attack on the statue was “disgraceful” and Helen Salmon said she was “so annoyed”.

It is believed the attempt to steal the Eric sculpture happened some time early on Saturday morning.

Sgt John Bond: “We are in the early stages of our investigation and I would urge anyone who may have seen what happened or has any information to get in touch with police on 101 quoting log number 0325 of 11th October.”