Councillors back plans to explore removal of ‘racist’ blackboy clock in Stroud

COUNCILLORS have backed plans to explore the removal of a ‘racist’ 18th century clock and figurine of a black slave boy from Blackboy House in Stroud, writes Carmelo Garcia, Local Democracy Reporter. 

Stroud District Councillors voted to back the suggestions from the review during a full council meeting last night.

This comes as SDC led a review of street or building names and monuments after residents raised concerns in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

More than 1,600 people responded to the review which has put forward proposals to consider renaming Blackboy House, remove the statue and offer it to The Museum in the Park collection and review the street name ‘Blackboys’ in Dursley.

The recommendations could start a process leading to the removal of the Blackboy clock and statue from its current location in Stroud.

However, the process is not straightforward as the clock is in private ownership and listed building planning consent would be needed should they be minded to remove it.

You can read the full story here. 

Councillor Natalie Bennett, (L, Nailsworth) chaired the Review Panel and proposed the council should take on the recommendations.

She said: “The worldwide Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020 rightly highlighted the ongoing injustice and discrimination experienced by people across the world.

“One important issue that arose was the appropriateness of commemoration of people and events from history and their relevance today.

“This council committed to consult with our communities and undertake a review of any street and building name, statues and architectural features in the district which may be considered offensive.”

She said it was around that time that the council was specifically asked by members of the public to review the blackboy clock and statue on Black Boy House, Castle Street Stroud.

“And that the panel concluded that the statute should not be on display in the public realm but also not hidden away.

“It should be redisplayed with detailed interpretation in a place that provides learning and education. So that we can continue to challenge what is not acceptable.”

However, some councillors questioned the need to remove the clock and statue and suggested it was akin to erasing history.

They said keeping it in situ with a plaque may be more appropriate.

Others also raised concerns over the estimated total cost of the recommendations which adds to £50,685 in total, some £33,500 of which would be the cost to remove the clock.

And questions were also raised over the validity of the consultation as some 600 people who took part do not live in the district.

In the end, a total of 25 councillors voted for the recommendations, while 12 abstained and a couple voted against.

Council leader Doina Cornell (L, Dursley), who seconded the motion, said the council should be commended for such a respectful debate.

She echoed the thanks for the panel and the cross-party commitment to tackle these issues. She said: “What I really value in this is that it was prompted by the community.

This is very much our place to take this forward.

“We have to recognise that statues or figurines are quite important but also very problematic for us all. It’s important we take a stand.

“This black boy figurine isn’t a specific individual but it serves as a monument to the commodification and later exotification of black bodies that emerged as a consequence of slavery.

“This statue is symbolic of the systemic racism that has been with us since the slave trade which continues to affect black, Asian and minority people ethnic people in the present day.

“The statue on public display is still an affront to black people who live and work in the Stroud area and sends the wrong message to anybody who visits the town.”

 

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