A PROMINENT critic of plans to erect a statue of Jane Austen within the grounds of Winchester Cathedral has branded the saga a “fiasco” after the plans were scrapped.

Lady Elizabeth Loader, who was one of those publicly criticising the bid in the letter pages of the Chronicle, said it was “unwelcome and denigrated because it did not represent anyone’s idea of Jane Austen”.

A spokesman for Winchester Cathedral confirmed the plans had been scrapped last week following a barrage of criticism.

The spokesman said: “We have listened carefully and, alongside support and enthusiasm for the project, we have also been fully aware of serious concerns expressed regarding the type of sculpture, the location and the timing of this significant commission.

“As a result of this listening, Chapter has decided, with regret, not to go ahead with this concept. There are other priorities within the Cathedral and city that need to be the focus of attention and energy at this time.”

Responding to the news, Lady Loader said: “The cost of £250,000 was an insult when funding for essential projects was being cut.

“Winchester Cathedral is in our hearts, it’s part in this fiasco will soon be forgotten.”

Keith Leaman, chairman of the City of Winchester Trust, which expressed concerns over the statue, added: “We felt it was a good decision not to go ahead.

“We just don’t think it was handled particularly well.”

Elizabeth Proudman, of St John’s Street, was also among those criticising the scheme, but has thanked the cathedral for listening to people’s views. She said: “It is very good to know that when many ordinary townspeople express their view, as happened on this occasion, their voices are heard.”

As previously reported, the project had been pledged financial backing from Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council, who had both offered to put £25,000 into the project.

Following the move Hampshire County Council confirmed it had not given the project any money.