Robert Baden-Powell statue to be removed in Poole

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image copyrightSteve Daniels
image captionThe statue of Robert Baden-Powell is being removed for "its protection"

A statue of the man who founded the Scouts movement is to be removed from Poole Quay amid fears it is on a "target list for attack".

Following police information, the 12-year-old statue of Robert Baden-Powell is to be "temporarily" removed to protect it, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council said.

The statue will have 24-hour security protection until it can be removed.

Protesters gathered at the quayside to show support for the statue.

Baden-Powell, who died aged 83 in 1941, has been criticised by campaigners who have accused him of racism, homophobia and support for Adolf Hitler.

In a statement, BCP deputy leader Mark Howell said it had made the decision "quickly" following the listing of the statue on a website detailing potential targets for attacks.

He said it would not be removed immediately as its foundations were deeper than first thought, but in the meantime it would be given 24-hour security protection.

"We know that local people feel proud of Lord Baden-Powell's and the Scout movement's links with Poole, and that some people feel that we would be giving in to the protesters by temporarily removing the statue. However, we feel it is responsible to protect it for future generations to enjoy and respect.

He insisted any removal would be temporary and it would be returned "as soon as the threat level subsides".

The authority previously said it recognised some aspects of Baden-Powell's life were considered "less worthy of commemoration" and it planned to involve all relevant communities and groups in discussions about its future.

Former Bournemouth East Labour parliamentary candidate Corrie Drew, said: "We can commemorate the positive work without commemorating the man."

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she added: "A quick look into his history shows that he was very open about his views against homosexuality and that he was a very open supporter of Hitler and of fascism and quite a strong, outspoken racist."

'Error of judgment'

Meanwhile, an online petition to "defend Poole's Lord Baden-Powell statue" has received more than 15,000 signatures.

Sir Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole, tweeted that he was "opposed" to the permanent removal of the statue.

Writing on Twitter, Tobias Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East, said: "Few historical figures comply with 21st C values. Simply expunging past connections from sight won't correct wrongs or help us better learn from our past."

The Tory MP for Bournemouth West, Conor Burns, also tweeted that the removal was "a huge error of judgment" and urged authorities to "put it back".

image copyrightThe Scout Association
image captionBaden-Powell on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

The life-sized statue was installed in 2008 and faces Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, where the Scouts began.

Dorset Police confirmed the statue had been identified as a "potential target".

"We appreciate the local council has a difficult decision taking into account the various opposing views held by members of the public," the force said.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said it was "resolute in its commitment to inclusion and diversity and members continually reflect and challenge ourselves in how we live our values".

"We look forward to discussing this matter with the council to make an informed decision on what happens next," he said.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionA group of local residents gathered at the quayside to protest at the planned removal

A group of local residents gathered at the quayside to show support for the statue.

Sharon Warne, 53, said controversial statues should have information panels installed explaining the positive and negative points about the figures they depict.

"He had a bad past but he was the founder of the Scouts which today is a great organisation and it's ridiculous to get rid of him," she added.

Rover Scout Matthew Trott, 28, who travelled from Cwmbran in Wales, said the proposal to remove the statue was "necessary to protect it".

"I'd rather see the statue placed in a box in a warehouse for the moment rather than at the bottom of the harbour," he said.

On Sunday, protesters at an anti-racism demonstration in Bristol tore down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it in the city's harbour.

A statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan has also been removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands, while in Oxford thousands of people called for the removal of a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

Who was Robert Baden-Powell?

image copyrightAFP/Getty Images
image captionRobert Baden-Powell (centre right) surrounded by the members of the Scouts movement
  • Robert Baden Powell was born in London on 22 February 1857
  • He was in the Army where he specialised in scouting, map-making and reconnaissance, and trained the other soldiers in essential skills
  • Returning home in 1903 he found the small handbook he had written for soldiers, Aids to Scouting, was being used by youth leaders and teachers
  • He was asked by the Boys' Brigade group's founder Sir William Smith to devise a scheme to improve citizenship training for boys
  • On 1 August 1907 he took 20 boys to Brownsea Island on an experimental camp which became the start of the Scouts movement
  • He retired from the Army in 1910 to devote his life to the Scouts, travelling the world to inspire more young people to join scouting

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