Council in England backs removal of Blackboy statue with links to slave trade 2 months ago

Council in England backs removal of Blackboy statue with links to slave trade

More than three-quarters of locals want the Blackboy statue removing

An almost-250-year-old statue on a clock tower in Stroud is to be removed, the local council has decided.

The Blackboy clock tower features a controversial statue on the side of the Grade II listed building, first placed there in 1844.

Last year, a report found that the statue's image had "without doubt" been influenced by "slavery and colonialism."

Now, Stroud District Council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking down the statue.

But the case has been labelled as "unprecedented" and a "test", with a law passed last year meaning that the communities secretary can have the final say on the decision.

At a meeting on Thursday evening, the local council voted through the proposal to have the Blackboy statue taken down by 17 to two, with four abstentions.

The vote came after an eight-week consultation involving more than 1,600 people about what should happen to the statue, the BBC reports.

The statue was created in 1774 and moved to its current site on the Grade II listed Blackboy clock tower in 1844 (Brian Robert Marshall)

As part of this, 77 percent of respondents said they wanted the statue removing, with 57 percent saying it should then be placed in a museum.

Despite the overwhelming public support and council vote, there is no guarantee the statue will come down.

It is owned by the Blackboy Clock Trust, and in January last year the government introduced a law to "protect England's cultural and historic heritage" following the outcry over the toppling of a statue of the 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

This means they could block the move.

Labour councillor Natalie Bennett said: "From our understanding, even if Historic England agreed it would then be called into the secretary of state for a final decision.

"So, as far as we know there has been no precedent set for this because the change in the law is so recent, so it would probably be a test case, I'd imagine."

Bennett said the council's panel had concluded that the statue "should not be on public display but neither should it be hidden away from the public."

The panel "strongly recommended" that the statue be placed in a museum and that an information plaque is placed outside Blackboy House to provide "details of this statue and how this review came about."

But local Tory MP Siobhan Baillie said she "opposes removal of history and statues" and "to do so serves no purpose other than to allow some people to decide or be selective with history or decide what is most comfortable and cause no offence".

Last year a report into the statue found that it was likely to be one of only 20 surviving examples of its kind in Britain.

Although it could not be confirmed whether the boy depicted was a meant to be a slave or not the report said: "Whatever the inspiration or its origins, it has to be remembered that, without a doubt, the boy's image came directly or indirectly through the influence of slavery and colonialism."

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