Councillors to discuss the future of Exeter’s Buller statue
Published: 5 January 2021
Exeter City Council’s Executive will be asked this month to approve an application to relocate the city’s General Buller statue.
The Council’s Scrutiny Task and Finish Group was asked last summer to investigate the continued appropriateness of the statue of General Buller and his horse Biffen, on the junction of Hele Road and New North Road, against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It follows campaigns in towns and cities across the UK to reconsider the appropriateness of statues, especially those of prominent people involved in the transatlantic slave trade or advancing British imperialism and colonialism.
The Buller statue, has become a cause of some public debate not only because of the man it portrays, but also because of the names carved on the plinth of colonial campaigns which sought to advance British imperialist interests in other countries.
The statue and plinth are Grade II listed, and as such any relocation or changes made to it require formal Listed Building consent.
The Task and Finish Group met on four occasions and took written and oral submissions from a range of stakeholders.
Their work was not only an assessment of General Buller himself, or the time in which he lived, but also on the appropriateness of its current location and the role public statues have in reflecting present-day values in the city.
Three Group members voted to relocate the statue and two voted for it to remain in place.
The group acknowledged that the Council faces many financial and other pressures that clearly impact on potential options, and recommended public consultation before a final decision is made.
It also recommended that temporary information boards are erected near to the statue, a public art working group is set up to consider the role of public art in Exeter, and an anti-racism strategy is developed by the Council.
Councillors will discuss the recommendations at a meeting of the Executive on Tuesday, 12 January.