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Removing the Lendy Memorial is not the best solution

June 14, 2020 9:22 PM

Lendy Memorial, Walled Garden, Sunbury-on-Thames (Photo by Jim Linwood on Flickr used under a Creative Commons licence)Our solution to reopen the Walled Garden in Sunbury-on-Thames

Spelthorne Borough Council has closed the Walled Garden in Sunbury for an indefinite period in response to the inclusion of the Lendy memorial in a list of potential targets on the ToppleTheRacists website. In the light of the protests in Bristol, London and elsewhere we can understand why a shot-term closure might be both pragmatic and in the best interests of public safety.

The memorial commemorates two young Sunbury residents who died in Southern Africa late in the 19th century. Both were serving in the armed forces and were actively involved in what we now consider to be colonialist wars.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors were not informed or consulted about the closure of the Walled Garden. We questioned the decision when we discovered it had been made and are pushing for the reopening of this important public space as soon as it is safe to do so.

Local Liberal Democrats see the monument as an integral part of Lower Sunbury. It does not present an image of an individual nor does it seek to glorify colonialism. In order to reflect the inequalities that the latest Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted, we would like to see a new plaque added to provide a more modern context.

Sunbury East councillor, Kathy Grant said "Racism has no place in our society and the Liberal Democrats as a party continue to strive to build a fairer, society without prejudice. We cannot ignore our colonial legacy. If we are to look towards a better future, we have to recognise it as part of our national history. Removing this memorial to two local young men would do nothing to promote racial equality, but we all need to accept that we have to engage properly about some of the difficult narratives of our past. An updated plaque or similar acknowledgement shows that we can be part of this important dialogue."

Photo by Jim Linwood on Flickr used under a Creative Commons licence