Council to consult on the ‘appropriateness’ of some monuments and street names. The authority said it was aware that ‘what may have been accepted in the past, is no longer acceptable today’.
The Consultation Institute writes:
Council chiefs say they will hold a public consultation on the “appropriateness of some monuments and street names in South Ayrshire”. It follows calls to remove the statue in Wellington Square of General James George Smith Neill. An online petition has already gathered almost 600 signatures. And the monument has been included in a ‘Topple The Racists’ website targeting more than 70 sites around the UK.
It comes after the removal of a Bristol monument to Edward Colston on Sunday which was then thrown into the city’s harbour. A number of other monuments around the country are now coming under scrutiny. And campaigners say the bust to General Neill in Ayr is an “insult to the town”. He was a Scottish military officer of the East India Company who served during the Indian rebellion of 1857. But he was infamous for the indiscriminate killing of native Indians during the uprising following the Bibighar massacre, which saw British women and children killed.
Now council bosses, who have come under pressure to act, say they will let the public speak on the matter.
A statement read: “We know that some residents have concerns about the appropriateness of some monuments and street names in South Ayrshire. While we understand the historical context around some statues and street names, we also know why many people have reservations about which historical figures we celebrate. What may have been accepted in the past, is no longer acceptable today. We will now take time to reflect on historical figures who are memorialised in South Ayrshire in local monuments and street names. We will consult with residents across our communities to decide on the most appropriate way to recognise our history, and time will be taken for reflection and re-appraisal.”
Outgoing council leader, Councillor Douglas Campbell, added: “Concerns have been raised about a number of local statues and street names, and I’d like to reassure residents that we are taking this very seriously. Racism and discrimination will not be tolerated in any form, and we will carefully consider the appropriateness of these monuments, and consult with communities with regard to their future.”
Details of the consultation will be released to the public in due course.