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Clive of India statue in Shrewsbury to stay

More than 23,000 people signed two petitions asking for Clive to be replaced, arguing that "he was not a figure deserving of such commemoration."

Shropshire Councillors rejected removing the statue at a meeting on Thursday in a move that has been described as “tone deaf” by campaigners.

A debate on the statue’s future ended with 28 councillors voting for a proposal by deputy leader Councillor Steve Charmley for “no further action”. There were 17 votes against one abstention.

Councillor Julian Dean said he had only recently become aware of the background of Robert Clive, known as Clive of India, and his role in the East India Company which established British colonial control of India and large parts of south east Asia through looting, theft and crippling taxes.

Councillor Dean said: “Now that this is understood by those of us with responsibility, to suggest that the statue should stay is effectively saying that we are comfortable celebrating this man’s life as a corrupt mercenary.

“More than that, it’s saying we are not bothered by the offence it causes and people should just grin and bear it.”

Council leader Peter Nutting said the statue should remain but that more work should be done on education people about Clive’s life so that they could make up their own minds.

He suggested an information board be put up either next to the statue or in Shrewsbury Museum, adding that there was also a statue of Clive in Kolkata that the Indian people were “proud of” and did not want to be removed.

Deputy Leader of Shropshire Council, Councillor Steve Charmley, said the removal of the statue would not be straight forward due to its Grade II listing.

In a statement from Councillor Charmley after the vote, he said  “We believe we should not erase controversial history but, rather than celebrate and glorify such people and events, find appropriate ways to mark and learn from them.  

"Shropshire Museums are doing a lot of work into how we can interpret and understand the more controversial parts of our history. They are also working with partners both within Shropshire Council and beyond to find the best way to interpret both Clive’s legacy and our nation’s colonial past. This is a process that will take time to do well and do right.

“It is also important to recognise that the Robert Clive of India statue is a Grade II listed building so can’t simply be taken down without permission from Historic England.

"Any removal without permission from Historic England would be legally considered as destruction of property. The listed status of the statue also means an interpretation board cannot be placed beside it, though I would support something being placed in the county museum.

Following the vote, David Parton, who started one of the two petitions, said: “We are disappointed by Shropshire Council’s tone-deaf decision to retain the statue of the mass-murderer Robert Clive in The Square, Shrewsbury.

“It is vital we learn from our past, but we should not have to live in it.

“Despite more than 20,000 people calling for this statue to be moved to a museum, Council members chose to ignore the concerns of minority communities and revel in Clive’s murderous legacy.

“This vote was just the start of the movement to remove Clive’s statue. Like with Colston and Rhodes, Clive will fall. Today’s decision has simply delayed the inevitable.”

A rival petition set up in support of the statue was signed by 9,000 people but was not submitted to the council in time to be debated.

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