A long-standing former councillor is to lead a city-wide review into statues and monuments across Leeds.
Alison Lowe, chief executive of Leeds-based mental health charity Touchstone, who was the first female BAME city councillor and represented Labour from 1990 to 2019, 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 follows actions by other local authorities across the country who have seen demonstrations and protests in recent days – that 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.”
Earlier this week, demonstrators daubed graffiti on a statue of Queen Victoria in Woodhouse Moor, Leeds. Council officers have since cleaned the statue up.
Leeds City Council leader Councillor Judith 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.”