Public vote looms on future of ‘controversial’ HM Stanley statue
A public vote is set to be held on the future of a statue of the “controversial” explorer HM Stanley in Denbigh.
Denbigh Town Council has announced residents will get the chance to have their say at the ballot box on October 15 and 16.
The statue, which was fashioned in bronze by artist Nick Elphick, has been the subject of a furious debate following Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020, with activists calling for it to be removed.
The piece was commissioned by the town council, and in June 2020 its members voted 6-5 to keep it in lieu of a public consultation on whether to retain it long-term or remove it.
The timing of the consultation had been delayed because of the Covid-19 crisis.
A statement from Denbigh Town Council read: “Due to the mass coverage of public statues of controversial historical figures last year the town council decided the decision whether the statue of H M Stanley remain or be removed, be the decision of the residents of Denbigh.
“Voting will take place in the Town Hall over two days. Friday October 15 between 10am and 7pm or Saturday October 16 between 10am and 1pm.
“Voting will be open to Denbigh residents aged 16 and above. You will need two forms of identification. One photo identification and one with your address on.
“If you are unable to attend or know of someone who can’t attend, please phone or text 07554679169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by October 14th and we will arrange an alternative way to vote. If you are aged between 16 and 18 and are having difficulty in getting two forms of identification please get in touch.
HM Stanley, was born John Rowlands, started life fatherless in Denbigh in 1841. He was put into the Asaph workhouse in nearby St Asaph.
As a teenager he emigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he fought in the American Civil war, became a journalist and then a an explorer of note.
He found the source of the Nile, mapping central Africa’s Great Lakes and also the borders of the present day Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stanley is controversial and polarising figure because and of his alleged mistreatment of indigenous workers and guides, and 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, and exploited the country’s natural resources, enriching himself in the process.
Stanley’s supporters claimed the explorer was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.