Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says the UK should ‘safeguard’ controversial statues and not ‘censor or edit’ the past (Picture: Getty)
Historical memorials should not be pulled down in a bid to ‘edit or censor’ Britain’s past, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said.
Any attempt to remove heritage assets in England will now require a ‘considered approach’ including planning permission and consultation with local communities.
The proposed legislation, due to be announced in Parliament tomorrow, follows the toppling of a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last year.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Jenrick hit out at attempts to erase part of the nation’s history ‘at the hand of the flash mob’ or by the decree of a ‘cultural committee of town hall militants and woke worthies’.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘We live in a country that believes in the rule of law, but when it comes to protecting our heritage, due process has been overridden. That can’t be right.
‘Local people should have the chance to be consulted whether a monument should stand or not.
‘What has stood for generations should be considered thoughtfully, not removed on a whim or at the behest of a baying mob.’
The bronze statue of Colston was ripped off its plinth and thrown into Bristol Harbour during a Black Lives Matter demonstration last June.
Churchill ‘was a racist’ was written on the former Prime Minister’s memorial (Picture: AFP)
Protesters throwing the statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour (Picture: PA)
Mr Jenrick says controversial statues should not be removed at the ‘behest of a baying mob’ (Picture: AFP via Getty Images Source)
Four people have been charged with criminal damage and are due to appear in court on January 25.
Colston’s statue was pulled down after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US, sparked protests around the world.
The unrest also led to a memorial of Sir Winston Churchill being vandalised.
Boris Johnson described the attack on the monument as ‘absurd and shameful’.
The PM said at the time: ‘The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny.
‘Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial.’
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