Removal of a statue depicting a former 18th-century London mayor has been halted after a council committee decided to consider other options.
William Beckford, who served as Lord Mayor in 1762 and 1769, made his enormous fortune from plantations in Jamaica that were largely occupied by enslaved people.
On January 21, city councils voted to remove his statue from the city’s Great Hall as the Square Mile seeks to distance itself from the financial sector’s historical association with the oppression of minority groups.
READThe City of London decides to remove slavery statues from the Square Mile
However, at another meeting on February 18, city councils voted to reconsider the plans and consider a number of options for the statue, including keeping but contextualizing its presence with a plaque describing Beckford’s story.
Caroline Addy, a member of the city’s Court of Common Council who backed the original recommendation to remove Beckford and a second statue of Sir John Cass, said at the January 21 session: “We still believe it is wrong to rule these two so prominently that it would be oppressive to the descendants of those who have suffered. “
She was assisted by the City of London Political Leader Caroline McGuinness, who supported the proposal to replace Beckford’s statue with a new installation to “mark the abolition of slavery and the contribution of slavery to the growth and expansion of the City of London to be recognized “.
A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said a working group would be set up after the February meeting to evaluate all options by September.
They added that “no further action will be taken on the two statues until the Joint Council’s Court of Justice has examined the Statues Working Group’s report and agreed how to proceed”.
The change, first reported by Reuters, followed further comments from government housing minister Robert Jenrick earlier this month saying that objects of controversial heritage should be preserved and explained.
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