COUNCIL COLUMN: Telling people they are wrong to be offended never works

Last year as a council we committed to a review on the Blackboy clock and other local monuments, plaques, buildings and street names. When we set out the process by which to do this, we were informed by Local Government Association guidance: “Councils should avoid telling people how they should feel or making assumptions about how they do feel. Simply telling people they are wrong to be offended (whether they are offended by a statue or by a proposal to remove it) never works.”

We also noted the government’s announcement that planning laws were to be changed so statues and monuments would need planning permission for removal, and Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick saying “local people ought to have the chance to be consulted.”

So we’re doing precisely that. We ran an open application process for community representatives to join our panel, to sit alongside councillors and historians and consider the responses that come in. Our panel is diverse, men and women, black and white.

The public consultation is open until September 1, and we are also consulting on our draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. So put in your views to the consultation – we are listening: stroud.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/about-the-council/have-your-say/consultations/review-of-street-or-building-names-and-monuments-in-the-district

Another issue much-covered in the local media has been all the issues relating to Brimscombe Port. Social media is so divisive. I’m more interested in building consensus, as we keep working with the port’s tenants to transition to new, more permanent locations, while the plans for the canal basin, residential and commercial space as well as community facilities have real potential to support a thriving community.

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