Oxford Rhodes statue staying until next year

The controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes is going to stay in place outside an Oxford college until at least next year.

Protestors had called for the removal of Oriel College’s statue of the Victorian imperialist.

Governors of the college announced in June they also wanted to see the statue taken down.

A commission set up by the college to examine the statue’s future will now report back in January 2021.

The inquiry group will include broadcaster Zeinab Badawi, former Conservative shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth and local Labour councillor Shaista Aziz.

On Tuesday, the college published more details of the statue’s future fate.

This suggests that nothing will happen quickly – the “commission of inquiry” will report back next year and then any decision, such as moving the statue to a museum, would require planning permission.

Even though the college’s governing body says it wants to take down the statue, a spokeswoman for the commission says there are no pre-conditions on what the review group can decide.

A previous inquiry into what should happen to the statue, which concluded four years ago, ultimately saw the statue staying in place.

The chair of the commission, as previously announced, will be Carole Souter, master of St Cross College.

Oriel College says it wants to find how its “21st-Century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past”.

In the wake of protests against other statues related to slavery and colonialism – such as Edward Colston in Bristol – there were calls in Oxford for the statue of Cecil Rhodes to be taken down.

The governing body of the college agreed that it should be removed – although the vice chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, warned against “hiding” from history.

Protestors had argued that the statue of Cecil Rhodes, a 19th Century businessman and politician in colonial-era Africa, was a symbol of racist attitudes.

A Rhodes Must Fall campaign group had previously warned that they would continue protesting until the “Rhodes statue ceases to adorn the facade of Oriel College on Oxford’s High Street”.

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