Derbyshire Dales District Council to review its assets

Thursday, June 25th, 2020 10:24am

By Eddie Bisknell- Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Chesterfield Borough Council carried out a similar review earlier this month.

A Derbyshire council is set to review all of its property to find any linked to “colonialism, slavery and racism” and will remove any found to “have these legacies”.

Ashbourne and Derbyshire Dales District Council hit national headlines earlier this month after thousands signed a petition calling for a “racist” wooden carving of a black head on an historic pub sign to be removed.

It was removed by protective local protesters late on Monday, June 8 and hidden – it was returned to the council, its legal owners, three days later and two days after the authority expected to have it returned.
Now, at a meeting of the Conservative-controlled full council on Thursday, July 2, Tory Cllr Jason Atkin is to start a debate to trigger a review of all of the authority’s assets.

His motion reads: “Given what we have seen in other boroughs, districts and local government authorities around the UK in recent weeks, we have a duty to address the legacy of colonialism, slavery and racism in all its forms.
“We acknowledge the public outcry of hurt, pain and anger over these legacies and that we undertake a review of all our assets and a report be brought back to full council on completion of the review with recommendations on what assets deemed as having these legacies attached to them and for their removal.”

This follows a call by councillors for an asset review two weeks ago at the authority’s first public debate over the Green Man and Black’s Head sign.
At that meeting, Paul Wilson, the council’s chief executive, had agreed to investigate councillor involvement in the black head’s removal and concealment.
He had also agreed to review other items in the council’s possession if councillors were to call for it.

Councillor Clare Gamble had said the events surrounding the black head had “turned the Derbyshire Dales into a national disgrace”.
Cllr Claire Raw had said: “It has hurt residents in that area from black and ethnic communities. I am sure you (chief executive) will investigate what has happened and I am sure training will be put in place to teach the councillors involved about equality and diversity. We cannot condone this sort of behaviour.”

Many people in Ashbourne believe in a local tale that the carved black wooden head is a tribute to a young black servant boy who accompanied Sir Walter Raleigh on visits to Ashbourne and is said to have been adored by townsfolk.
Maxwell Craven, a Derby-based Historian believes the head is actually a feature from a family crest and in fact represents the head of a Saracen – an Arab Muslim.

Lindsey Porter, another notable local historian, has said he believes the “Black’s Head” has no connections to slavery.
However, objectors have been quick to point out that neither of these alleged origins cancels out allegations that the sculpture can be classed as racist in modern society – and that it could upset black and ethnic minority residents and tourists.
This is in large part due to the black sculpture’s caricature design – similar to the Golliwog character created by Florence Kate Upton, known for its racist connotations.

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