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How a chocolate-like Harry Kane statue brought council spending and tax hikes into sharp focus

Our exclusive reveal of an opinion-splitting Harry Kane statue got the media talking. Now we can reveal the statue finally has a home

A state of England footballer Harry Kane, looking like it's made of chocolate

Speculation raged over why the statue had not been seen. Image: Big Issue/Waltham Forest Council/Sculpture Machine Ltd

Face fixed with a lifeless look in his eyes, a life-size statue of Harry Kane sits on a bench, waiting to find a home. It had been forged at a cost of £7,200, but hidden from locals since it was commissioned in 2019. So when the Big Issue published the first pictures of the statue, it became a story around the world.

Now we can also reveal the statue has found somewhere to go, and will be unveiled within months – just in time to mark England’s inevitable Euros semi-final disappointment.

Emma Best, the Waltham Forest councillor who originally commissioned the statue, told the Big Issue: “The statue has a home and will be launched in the coming months. The delay in the statue launch has mainly been due to COVID and making sure of all the interested venues the right place was found.”

Cash-strapped councils across the UK are going bust, residents face council tax hikes in the hundreds of pounds, and services are being cut to the bone to stave off financial oblivion. Meanwhile, poverty runs deep: 4.2 million children in the UK – more than a quarter of all kids – are in poverty. 46% of people in the UK have £1,000 or less in savings.

So readers wondered: “Think how better this could have been spent: food banks, warm shelter for homeless people?” Alternatively: “Councils can make statues but can’t collect people’s bins regularly enough.”

Overwhelmingly though, there was one thought: it looks like it’s made of chocolate.

The UK’s media ran with the story, as the Guardian, The Times, Daily Mail, the Sun, The Mirror and more followed our exclusive. There’s even a Vietnamese TikTok about the statue.

However, councillor Best said that the pictures – obtained through Waltham Forest Council using a freedom of information request – could spoil the full splendour of the launch: “It’s really disappointing photos were leaked as we want the community to enjoy the full experience of the launch.”

Still, people have been enjoying themselves. Following in a long tradition of football statues, the statue of the England captain prompted quick comparisons from fans.

Some likened the Harry Kane statue to the infamous bust of Cristiano Ronaldo, while others wondered if it was another version of James Corden’s prank statue of David Beckham.

With the location still a closely-guarded secret, some wondered where it could be tucked away.

Statues can take years to come to fruition. Plymouth Argyle fans raised more than £140,000 to build a statue of Jack Leslie, an Argyle legend who would have become England’s first Black footballer – until selectors found out about his race.

Greg Foxsmith, who led the project to get the statue outside Home Park, told the Big Issue the Harry Kane statue was better than the infamous Ronaldo statue, but not on the level of Leslie’s likeness.

“Art should be on public display, not hidden away,” he said. ”Harry Kane is in his prime, and it would be great for fans of Spurs, Bayern and England legend to see the statue in his boyhood home of Chingford now, rather than years later when memories have faded.”

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