BUSINESS chiefs are backing plans to erect a statue in Southampton of the city's comedy legend, Benny Hill.

Civic leaders are currently searching for a site for the memorial after TV pundit Garry Bushell pledged to stump up £50,000.

Daily Echo readers have had their say on where they think the statue should go.

Sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who created the Eric Morecambe statue in Morecambe, has already drawn up designs and is awaiting the go-ahead once a location is found.

The proposals are now being backed by Southampton Chamber of Commerce.

A spokesman said: "Whatever your views on Benny Hill, he was a world-wide figure and his shows are still shown in dozens of countries.

"A statue would bound to be a popular attraction for tourists."

Mr Bushell pledged to donate a statue saluting the former milkman, who died more than 12 years ago, after plans to put one in Kensington Royal Park, where Benny often wrote material, drew a blank.

City council public arts officer Liz Smith, who is searching for a site, said any location would be subject to planning controls.

Readers have now put forward their own suggestions to help her hunt.

Dave Hills, from Totton, said: "It could go in the proposed new 'Arts Quarter', located possibly in the paved area near the old C&A store. What better place? Comedy is an artform after all.

"Or near the Bargate, in the area between McDonald's and Littlewoods, facing towards Above Bar."

Keith Wells, 39, from Weston, said: "I would like to see it by the lions at the Bargate.

"My dad used to see him around there on many occasions."

Michael Harris, 65, from Lordshill, said: "I would like to see the statue in the precinct by the Bargate.

"It would mean the millions of people who come into the city would be able to see it easily."

John Mabey, 74, from Bitterne Manor, said: "I think it should go outside the WestQuay shopping centre in Above Bar Street. I think it would be an ideal spot, it's a prime location."

Clive Matthew, 47, from Woolston, said: "I know Benny Hill used to live near the general hospital, so it would be great if they put it in the hospital grounds so it would cheer people up as they go in."

Annette Wedge, 48, from Swaythling, said: "I think they should put it by Southampton Common, by The Avenue, where he used to sit on the bench.

"I used to walk past him and he was always so polite and kind."

Stephen Mead, 45, from Bassett, said: "I think it should be put in Hill Lane. It could go by the entrance to the common.

"If it was put there, it would lead people on to the common and people could think that's where he used to chase the girls."