Robert Baden-Powell: Council provides 24-hour security for statue of Scouts founder amid anti-racism protests

Planned removal of monument delayed

Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell statue to be removed in Poole

A council has postponed the removal of a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell from its site on Poole’s seafront after residents vowed to protect it from anti-racism protesters.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council had announced the statue in Poole Quay, Dorset, would be temporarily taken down after it was put on a target list.

However, the planned removal has been delayed after the council realised the operation would require uprooting its deep foundations and heavy-lifting equipment.

The authority also announced it would be providing the statue with 24-hour security.

A crowd of local residents had gathered around the statue on Thursday and vowed to protect it and stop the council from removing it.

Lord Baden-Powell, who fought in the Boer War, was voted the 13th most influential person in the UK in the 20th century in a poll in 2007.

However, critics say he held racist views and in 2010 declassified MI5 files revealed he was invited to meet Adolf Hitler after holding friendly talks about forming closer ties with the Hitler Youth.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, council leader Vikki Slade said the decision was taken following a “threat”, adding: “It’s literally less than three metres from the sea so is at huge risk.”

However, Mark Howell, the local authority’s deputy leader, said the final decision to temporarily take down the statue had not yet been made.

He said: “We are considering whether we should remove it temporarily to protect the statue.

“In terms of its long-term future, this statue stays here; Baden-Powell did an enormous amount of good, he created an organisation that brought people from different religions, ethnic backgrounds and races together and we are very proud of that in Poole and our connection to him.

“This has been an emergency reaction because the police have advised us the statue is on the target list being circulated by protesters.

“This is an artwork and if it was damaged it wouldn’t be easily repaired. There is no controversy about it being here, it’s the right place for it.”

A spokesperson for the Scouts said the organisation was aware of plans to remove the statue.

“We look forward to discussing this matter with Poole Council to make an informed decision on what happens next,” they said.

“Baden-Powell was the founder of the Scout movement. Currently there are over 54 million Scouts in the world and we operate in almost every nation on earth promoting tolerance and global solidarity.

“The Scout movement is resolute in its commitment to inclusion and diversity and members continually reflect and challenge ourselves in how we live our values.”

Meanwhile an online petition to “defend Poole’s Lord Baden-Powell statue” received thousands of signatures.

It comes after several statues were pulled down amid worldwide protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in the US, who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes last month.

Last Sunday, protesters in Bristol pulled down a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the harbour. The statue was retrieved on Thursday and the local council said it would be displayed in a museum.

Labour-led councils in England and Wales have agreed to work with their local communities to examine the “appropriateness” of certain monuments and statues on public land and council property.

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