‘LET BRIS­TOL DE­CIDE’

COL­STON HALL LABOUR LEADER WADES IN TO NAM­ING DE­BATE

Bristol Post - - FRONT PAGE - Kate WIL­SON Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter kate.wil­son@reach­plc.com

LABOUR leader Jeremy Cor­byn has said the new name for Col­ston Hall should be de­cided by the peo­ple of Bris­tol, dur­ing a visit to the city.

Mr Cor­byn was in Bris­tol yes­ter­day to help mark Black His­tory Month.

He ar­rived at Col­lege Green to visit the ‘Alone with Em­pire’ film in­stal­la­tion at the Vestibule Art Space at Bris­tol City Hall.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is fo­cused on un­der­stand­ing the his­tory and legacy of colo­nial­ism – a sub­ject Mr Cor­byn says he wants to see be­come part of the na­tional school cur­ricu­lum all year.

He also said he wanted to see greater weight given to the “im­mense con­tri­bu­tion” black Bri­tons have made in end­ing slav­ery and the fight for civil rights.

Bris­tol, a city whose wealth was built on the slave trade, has been grad­u­ally re-ex­am­in­ing its role in the slave trade and slav­ery in re­cent years, with the name of Ed­ward Col­ston at the fore­front.

The slave trader’s name is com­mon in Bris­tol with schools, build­ings, roads, pubs and con­cert halls named af­ter him. But there has been a grow­ing cam­paign for re­mov­ing the slave mer­chants’ name from in­sti­tu­tions and build­ings in the city.

And in April last year Col­ston Hall an­nounced it was drop­ping the name to dis­as­so­ci­ate it­self from the “toxic brand”.

The hall is cur­rently closed while it un­der­goes a £48.8mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion project, and when it re­opens in 2020 it will have a new name

Dur­ing his visit to Bris­tol Mr Cor­byn did not sug­gest any ideas for a name him­self, in­stead say­ing “it should be down to the peo­ple of Bris­tol to de­cide”.

He even sug­gested a com­pe­ti­tion sim­i­lar to one which took place in his own con­stituency, Is­ling­ton North, where res­i­dents were in­vited to vote on the name of a new square in Arch­way which even­tu­ally be­came known as Nav­i­ga­tor Square.

Mr Cor­byn said the name should be some­thing which is im­por­tant to the peo­ple of Bris­tol.

Col­ston Hall is not the only Bris­tol in­sti­tu­tion con­sid­er­ing a name change. The former Col­ston’s Pri­mary School changed its name to Cotham Gar­dens Pri­mary School in Septem­ber.

But Col­ston’s Girls’ School has de­cided to keep the name, ex­plain­ing in a let­ter to par­ents last year that there seemed “no ben­e­fit in deny­ing the school’s fi­nan­cial ori­gin and ob­scur­ing his­tory it­self”.

Mean­while the Col­ston Yard pub has also gone through a name change, and is now known as The Bris­tol Yard in­stead.

And ear­lier this year the new Lord Mayor of Bris­tol, Cllr Cleo Lake, re­moved a 316-year-old por­trait of the slave trader Ed­ward Col­ston from the Lord Mayor’s par­lour at City Hall.

The por­trait, which Col­ston sat for in 1702, has be­longed to the city coun­cil for decades, and has hung in the of­fice of the Lord Mayor since at least 1953, when City Hall was opened.

But re­mov­ing Col­ston’s name from cer­tain places in the city has proved con­tro­ver­sial in some cir­cles, with cer­tain groups ar­gu­ing that it was eras­ing Bris­tol’s his­tory.

Com­ment­ing on the de­bate Mr Cor­byn said: “I think we should un­der­stand our past and not erase it, but we should also com­mem­o­rate those who stood up against the slave trade.

“So I would like to see com­mem-

ora­tions of peo­ple like Olau­dah Equiano – a freed slave who did so much to bring about the end of slav­ery – and the Reverend Thomas Clark­son who was a won­der­ful cam­paigner and who pre­ceded Wil­liam Wil­ber­force in bring­ing about an end to the slave trade.

“Also to com­mem­o­rate the con­tri­bu­tion of freed slaves who came and made their homes in Bris­tol and other places to help bring about the free­dom of oth­ers.

“In Ja­maica and other places they com­mem­o­rate peo­ple like Paul Bogle who led the upris­ing in Ja­maica.

Mr Cor­byn said it was about un­der­stand­ing where “our his­tory comes from”.

As part of his visit the Labour leader un­veiled plans for an Eman­ci­pa­tion Ed­u­ca­tional Trust , which would ed­u­cate fu­ture gen­er­a­tions about the im­pact of slav­ery.

Speak­ing out­side City Hall he said: “I want to see a his­tory cur­ricu­lum much broader that it is at the present time for all chil­dren.

“Un­der­stand­ing of his­tory gives us a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the world and helps ul­ti­mately to bring about a more peace­ful world.”

Mr Cor­byn also ad­dressed the Win­drush scan­dal and said the com­mu­nity af­fected should re­ceive both a “proper apol­ogy and com­pen­sa­tion”.

He said Labour was clear there needed to be jus­tice for the en­tire Win­drush gen­er­a­tion.

“No­body should have been re­moved from this coun­try and no­body should have had their right to re­main in Bri­tain ques­tioned like they did.

“This is a gen­er­a­tion that of­ten came from poor fam­i­lies, small vil­lages, all across the Caribbean.

“They built our NHS, they ran our rail­ways they did so much in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and made an amaz­ing con­tri­bu­tion to our na­tional story and our life. “Let’s treat them prop­erly.” Dur­ing his visit to Bris­tol Mr Cor­byn also met the city’s mayor Marvin Rees in­side City Hall.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards Mr Cor­byn praised the mayor for the “imag­i­na­tive way he was lead­ing the city” es­pe­cially dur­ing tough fi­nan­cial times for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Mr Cor­byn said that the Gov­ern­ment had plans to cut an­other £1.3bil­lion from lo­cal gov­ern­ments next year.

“It’s ex­tremely dam­ag­ing to ev­ery city coun­cil that’s try­ing to do things,” added Mr Cor­byn.

“Bris­tol needs a fair deal, as do the other great cities of this coun­try.

“A Labour gov­ern­ment will not be us­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment as a ve­hi­cle for aus­ter­ity, in­stead we will be us­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment as a ve­hi­cle for eco­nomic pros­per­ity.”

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn in Bris­tol yes­ter­day

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn pic­tured out­side Bris­tol Cathe­dral yes­ter­day, and meet­ing lo­cal politi­cians in­clud­ing deputy mayor Asher Craig and MP Thangam Deb­bonaire

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.