A former Armley councillor is to lead a city-wide review into statues and monuments across Leeds.
Alison Lowe was the first female BAME city councillor in Leeds and represented Labour in Armley from 1990 to 2019.
Ms Lowe, who is chief executive of Leeds-based mental health charity Touchstone, has been appointed to the role as part of the council’s response to an ongoing debate around statues of some historic figures.
The move comes a day after the statue of Queen Victoria on Woodhouse Moor was sprayed with graffiti, which included the words “murderer” and “slave owner”.
It also follows actions by other local authorities across the country who have seen demonstrations and protests in recent days – which included the toppling of the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
Announcing the review, Leeds City Council leader Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We’re incredibly proud of our diverse multicultural city here in Leeds and particularly proud of the relationships we have and the work we do with our communities across the city.
“It’s absolutely crucial to us that we keep those relationships strong and everything we do is done in a spirit of dialogue, consultation and, most importantly, listening to people’s views.
“We have decided to look at the statues we have in the city and understand their background to ensure our city’s rich multi-cultural history is appropriately celebrated and represented and also to identify any gaps that exist. We very much look forward to working with Alison to take these matters forward.”
Council officers have today removed the graffiti on the Queen Victoria statue. Cllr Blake added:
“As a council and a city we will always support freedom of speech and people’s rights to express their views in a peaceful and respectful way. However, we do have established policies regarding graffiti on public property and will continue to enforce these.”
Common sense and logic needs to prevail. Queen Vic was made the queen 6 years after the abolition of slavery. She was a queen that made Britain great. Take pride in our royalty. They are not all perfect but they are what makes the UK so British and respected around the world. As for statues generally, they are the past. Sir John Peel was famous for starting the Met Police, not slavery. What I have seen in the media seems to be statues damaged, destroyed or graffiti. Take a step back and think about what they were famous for. One in London was for building the first wet docks, which was the start of the success of the London as a major port and ship building. The fact that he also owned a sugar plantation in the Caribbean is a side issue, not really related to the success that the statute commemorates. It was upsetting to see Churchill statue defaced. He actually was one of the main people to end of Hitler who was all for exterminating a whole race!!! If you go back far enough in history for the lords, ladies and wealth of Great Britain they will have all had some connection to slaves. Britain was one of the first countries to abolish slaves and from what I have found out only stopped paying for the changes they had to make in 2015. GB has done a massive amount to change the views and is one of the leading countries for change. NONE OF US CAN CHANGE THE PAST., BUT WE CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE. Leave the statues as a reminder from whence we came. The world is changing. BAME can make success of their lives in the UK and many other countries. Obama effectively reached the top of the world when he became the USA president. Lewis Hamilton the best racing driver ever. Opportunities are there for everyone. Work hard, aim for success and don’t get dragged down by media, friends, colleagues who are on the road to destruction. So leave the statues as a reminder of where we have come from.
Our statues can have no bearing on today’s society, they are there now as a history lesson for people who want to learn, the removal of our statues is no more than giving into the thugs and terrorists who hide behind black masks. Our communities are under attack from the left wing Nazi’s whose only aim is to cause chaos and anarchy, black lives matter, Antifa, they are not friends of the black community, they are agitators wanting the black youth to ride up and destroy communities, the black community are being used by the left wing Nazi’s to try and overthrough democracy, and where will we be without democracy, we will live by the rule of the strongest will survive, and the weak will be of no concerns will be totally forgotten, do not let these anarchists into your community and lives, they are not your friends.
Everybody is going on about racism, well I would like to know is it racist to call a Scottish person jock, an lrish person paddy/mick, or a Welsh person taffy, I feel it is very racist to do and say this, don’t you??. if we are going to stamp it out, let’s stamp it out for everybody, as that is the only way we can stop it… What do you think of that????….