PUBLIC VOTE: Controversial H.M Stanley Statue to remain
The statue is located outside Denbigh Library, Image: Google Maps
A controversial statue will remain in Denbigh after a public vote decided it would not be removed.
Residents voted in favour of keeping the statue of H.M Stanley at Hall Square after a ballot took place on October 15 and 16.
The bronze statue of H.M Stanley was commissioned over a decade ago, but Stanley’s association with European imperialism led to protests sparked by Black Lives Matters.
Consequently a public consultation was arranged to decide the statue’s future.
At last night’s (Wednesday’s) Denbigh Town Council meeting, councillors were given an overview by the chair of the H.M Stanley working group Cllr Catherine Jones. It was revealed the town council received a total of 592 votes, including postal votes and emails.
But 471 residents voted for the statue to remain, and 121 voted for it to be removed, representing just 8.8 per cent of the town’s population, meaning 79.6 per cent of votes opted for the statue to be retained.
The town council then agreed the statue should remain in situ.
Denbigh Town Council commissioned the piece over a decade ago, hiring North Wales artist Nick Elphick to create the sculpture.
But after protests, the town council held a meeting in June 2020 to discuss the statue’s future and decided upon the public consultation, which was delayed due to COVID.
Henry Morton Stanley is immortalised for his famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume” after finding the Scottish explorer on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where he had been lost in central Africa.
Stanley was born John Rowlands and started life fatherless in Denbigh in 1841. He was put into the Asaph workhouse in nearby St Asaph before emigrating to the United States as a teenager.
He then fought in the American Civil War before becoming a journalist and explorer, finding the source of the Nile, mapping central Africa’s Great Lakes and the borders of the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo.
But Stanley is a controversial figure to some because of his links with Belgian King Leopold II, for whom he worked for a time.
The monarch committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State – now the Democratic Republic of Congo; however, his supporters say Stanley was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.
Words: Richard Evans, Local Democracy Reporter
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