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Clive of India statue set for third debate

 
Created on 17/09/2020 @ 09:16
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The figure at the centre of the local debate over Britain’s colonial past will be up for discussion for a third time next week.

Clive of India has a statue in Shrewsbury Square, and his sizable collection which includes ‘looted items’ and the ‘spoils of war’ from the sub-continent are on display at Powis Castle, including a gold and bejewelled tiger’s head from the throne of defeated opposition leader Tipu Sultan (pictured).

Following the summer debates sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, castle owners National Trust said it handles the issue of the Clive of India collection “with the utmost respect and sensitively”, and has since updated the web site to add that “the often-violent stories of how such precious objects came to be at Powis reinforce the need for new research into our colonial histories”.

The question of whether the statue of Clive of India should remain in Shrewsbury’s Square will be debated by Shropshire Council when a petition – this time calling for the statue to stay where it is – will be presented at a meeting of the full council.

It comes after a petition to see the monument removed was handed in at the last full council meeting in July, when councillors agreed by 28 votes to 17 to take no further action.

A second petition with the same wording was debated by the council’s performance management scrutiny committee on Wednesday, but members were told they would get another chance to thrash it out at next week’s full council meeting when the rival petition is handed in.

Liberal Democrat councillors Hannah Fraser and Roger Evans said they would support the statue’s removal.

Councillor Fraser said: “I would prefer not to see Clive of India in the town Square. I think he is a very unsavoury character.

“There is an awful lot of our history that’s not exemplified by a statue in the Square, and we seem to have picked a particularly rotten bit of it.”

Councillor Evans added: “Clive is a part of history. We need to note this but not on a pedestal in the main town Square – a place of honour, a place where we should have someone or something we can all be proud of.

“There are a significant number of people who are not proud of Clive.

“He is a part of history and needs to be remembered as a part of history, but not placed on a pedestal in the centre of the town where visitors and everybody can see him.

“He should be relegated to somewhere where people can see what he did, good or bad, but certainly not on a pedestal.”

Councillor Steve Charmley, portfolio holder for assets, said he did not “see the point” of debating the matter again.

He added: “The decision at the last council was was pretty clear to take no further action and I don’t see any reason to change it.”

Committee chairman Councillor Claire Wild proposed taking no further action and this was supported by six votes to two.

Calls for the statue’s removal were sparked by Black Lives Matter protests earlier this summer which saw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston torn down by demonstrators in Bristol.

Campaigners say Robert Clive, a former Shrewsbury MP and mayor, should not be celebrated in the form of such a prominent statue due to his role in establishing British colonial control over India through the East India Company.

But not everyone agrees, and thousands of people have also signed a petition arguing that the removal of the Clive statue would be an attempt to erase him from the town’s history.

By a Local Democary Reporter and MyWelshpool

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