National Post (Latest Edition)

City of London reverses plan to remove statues linked to slave trade

- Charles Capel

The City of London reversed a plan to remove two statues of men linked to the transatlan­tic slave trade from its Guildhall headquarte­rs, opting instead to place notices nearby explaining their context.

The decision was announced on Thursday, after representa­tives of the body’s municipal authority voted in favour of keeping the statues of William Beckford and John Cass where they stand.

It’s a “sensible, proportion­ate response to a sensitive issue,” said Doug Barrow, who chaired a working group that looked into the issue, in a statement. “It enables us to acknowledg­e and address the legacy of our past with openness and honesty.”

The City of London began looking more closely at its murky past during the Black Lives Matter protests that spread across the U.K. last year. It created an anti-racism task force that recommende­d removing the two statues, but later decided to set up the working group led by Barrow.

In justifying the change of plan, the City of London says that three out of four people wanted the statues placed in context or taken away, citing a report from Barrow’s working group. Getting rid of them was hampered by the need for listed building consent, it says, as well as the cost of repairing the stonework behind them — about 100,000 pounds ($170,810) for Beckford’s and 7,500 pounds ($12, 809) for Cass’s.

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