Report suggests what should happen to Colston statue and plinth

Report suggests what should happen to Colston statue and plinth

Recommendations for what happens next to the Colston Statue have been published by the We Are Bristol History Commission which took into account the responses of nearly 14,000 people.

3 February 2022

Responses were gathered in spring of 2021 in a survey which asked people to give their views to help shape the future of the statue, the plinth and the city’s efforts to process and understand recent history as well as the events that have led us to who we are today.

Following a detailed analysis, the commission have proposed six recommendations for the future, and raised some broader issues for consideration.

The report will now be considered by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and the recommendations will need approving at the Cabinet meeting in April.

Professor Tim Cole, Chair of History Commission, said: “Starting out on this process of consultation, I was unsure how united or divided the city would be. Reading through the thoughtful comments that people wrote, it is clear that not only are the events of June 2020 and what we do now something that many care about, but there is also considerable shared thinking and feeling in the city.”

Important highlights from the report include:

  • Most people wish to see the Colston statue on display in a Bristol museum
  • A majority support adding a plaque in the vicinity of the plinth to reflect the events of 7 June 2020
  • Opinion was mixed on what to do with the plinth - the most popular option was to use the space for temporary artworks or sculptures
  • Respondents from Bristol were mostly positive about the statue coming down, however the results show this feeling was not universal
  • Age is the strongest determinant of how people who answered the survey responded to the statue coming down

Professor Shawn Sobers, member of the We Are Bristol History Commission, said: “The survey shows that the past matters to people and is relevant in their lives. Honest engagement with the city's past is something that people want to see happen, whatever their views on the statue.”

Joanna Burch-Brown, Co-Chair of the We Are Bristol History Commission, said: “How can we address this history in a way that is uplifting and brings people together? A key is to connect across generations. Many older people have been feeling there should be more respect for law and tradition, and that the pace of change is too quick. Many younger people feel there is a need for change, and for more equality. There are positive intentions behind both views. We would love to see people of different ages coming together to spend time connecting through stories and histories.”

Of those who completed the survey, just over half were from Bristol (55 per cent). The Bristol participants were a cross-section of the city.  Amongst Bristol respondents, people of every age, gender, ethnicity and deprivation level participated.

You can view the We Are Bristol History Commission consultation report and their recommendations on the Bristol City Council website.

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