Civic watchdog organisation Leeds Civic Trust has launched a review of its blue plaque scheme.
The move follows Leeds City Council’s review of statues in Leeds, which was launched amid the Black Lives Matter protests.
Leeds Civic Trust is responsible for one of the largest blue plaques schemes in the country. Since 1989 the Trust has erected 180 plaques across Leeds commemorating significant historical figures, buildings and events in locations which are associated with them.
Most blue plaques are nominated by members of the public. The Trust installs around six plaques each year.
An independent review of the Trust’s Blue Plaques scheme was launched in 2020, chaired by public relations and cultural heritage consultant Susan Pitter. The review asks who and what is represented in plaque form, how the Trust makes decisions and what criteria it uses.
A link to the independent and anonymous survey can be found here can be found here.
Trust director Martin Hamilton said:
“Leeds Civic Trust is proud to be responsible for the city’s blue plaques scheme, and although we have worked to increase the diversity of our plaques in recent years, much more needs to be done to ensure that the plaques scheme better reflects the diverse and rich stories we know this city has to tell.
“To help us do this, we’re asking the people of Leeds for their thoughts by completing a quick survey available via our website. By sharing your reflections, you’ll be contributing to how we commemorate this city’s heritage.
“Can a scheme in which more than 50% of our plaques cover the Victorian era be a true reflection of the history of our city? Are the Trust’s decision making processes transparent and our criteria appropriate?
“Representation is important to the Trust and we are committed to ensuring that the scheme better recognises those who have been traditionally under-represented in history (and are under-represented in our plaques scheme), including members of the black and BME communities.”
Leeds Civic Trust promotes the improvements of Leeds in the spheres of planning, architecture, heritage and city amenities. It is responsible for the “Blue Plaque” scheme in the city.
A review of statues in Leeds, which was launched last year amid the Black Lives Matter protests, found that most people want them to stay where they are.
The death of African-American George Floyd in police custody was the catalyst for anti-racism protests around the world. This led to calls for UK statues linked to slavery and colonialism to be removed, with protestors tearing the Colston statue from its plinth before dumping it into Bristol harbour.
In Leeds, the Queen Victoria statue on Woodhouse Moor was sprayed with graffiti including the words “murderer” and “slave owner”, prompting the council to announce a city-wide review led by former Armley councillor Alison Lowe. There were also suggestions of new commemorations for people from Leeds including Olympic boxer Nicola Adams.