July 10, 2020

Eight out of 10 councils considering action on statues after Black Lives Matter protests

June 11, 2020

Eight out of 10 councils with contentious statues and monuments in their area are considering action in response to recent protests, according to Sky News research.

Sky News contacted 43 councils with a total of 58 statues between them which have been criticised for their links to racism, slavery or colonialism.

Of the 33 councils that responded, 28 said they were now undertaking a review of at least some of the statues in their area or were planning to consult local residents about their future.

Full reviews are now planned in cities including London, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

In some cases, reviews into statues and place names were already under way before recent controversy.

"We were already looking at this prior to the recent upsurge in interest," said a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council.

"There are periods and people in Glasgow's history that should make us all deeply uncomfortable and that is why, late last year, we became the first city in the UK to commission an in-depth academic study into our links to transatlantic slavery and colonialism."

Five councils said they were not planning to review the locations or appropriateness of the statues in their area.

Among them was The Highland Council, which said any proposed changes to the Duke of Sutherland Monument in Golspie would have to follow normal planning procedures.

Authorities in Devon also said statues of Sir Francis Drake and General Sir Redvers Buller in Tavistock and Exeter should remain.

West Devon Borough Council Leader Neil Jory said Drake's statue "serves as a reminder that there was an appallingly dark side to the history of seafaring, exploration and colonisation".

A further 10 councils did not respond to enquiries by Sky News.

Not all statues are the responsibility of local councils, with many belonging to institutions such as hospitals, universities and museums.

Statues of Sir Francis Drake, Robert Blake and Admiral Horatio Nelson are all found in Deptford Town Hall, which is part of Goldsmiths, University of London.

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said "the college will urgently work with our students, colleagues and local residents to help decide how we address the future of these figures".

In some cases, it was not clear who had responsibility for a particular memorial.

Medway Council in Kent said a statue of the former British general Lord Kitchener in Chatham was located on land owned by the army.

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But the Ministry of Defence said this was no longer the case, calling into question who the statue belonged to and would have the authority to decide whether it should be removed.

In the UK, two statues have already been taken down after protesters pushed a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour on Sunday.

A statue of slave owner Robert Milligan was removed from outside the Museum of London.

A caricature of a black man's face on a pub sign in Derbyshire was also removed, although the local council said this was a temporary measure.

Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

Sky News will broadcast a global debate show on Tuesday night at 8pm - looking at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examining institutional racism and how we fix it.

If you would like to be part of our virtual audience, and have a chance of putting a question to our panel, please send your name, location and question to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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