Lambeth Council is set to hold its first public debate on its review into sites with links to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

The council announced in June that it would review all public landmarks, statues, and works of art in the borough to identify any links to “slavery, colonialism, and oppression of black communities”.    

The move was sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of US police in May, after which statues with links to slavery and the oppression of Black people started being removed across the UK. 

The council is reviewing a host of street names across the borough, as well as wards, plaques, statues, tombs, and memorials.

The review includes Vassall ward, which was named after Henry Richard Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland of Foxley, and his wife Elizabeth Webster, who were compensated after the abolition of slavery for their slaves and plantations in Jamica.  

The council also said it would be consulting with the public on the plans and would hold a series of engagement events.  

The first will be held online on Thursday (November 19) and will involve an introduction to the topic and context of each of the locations identified in the borough by the Lambeth Archives manager. 

Cllr Sonia Winifred, cabinet member for equalities and culture, will then lead a discussion with Dr. Debbie Weekes-Barnard, Deputy Mayor of London for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, and Dawn Hill, chair of the Black Cultural Archives. 

Following this, anyone from the public attending, including residents and community groups, will be able to give their views on the locations and will be able to give suggestions about who Lambeth should commemorate today.  

The event will be followed by others, which will be announced in the new year. 

Cllr Winifred said: “Lambeth is a fantastic place – it’s the world in one borough. Its roots go deep, for many people and communities who have made it their home in their own way.  

“That said, some sites in the shared space in which we live are contentious. They commemorate people who were successful, generous and civic-minded in many cases, but they also glorify individuals who caused untold suffering and pain, the effects of which are keenly felt today. 

“The challenge from the Black Lives Matter movement, among many others, was and is clear – can we face our past and discuss among ourselves who we choose to name our streets after, or our public spaces?” 

Dr Weekes-Bernard said “it is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and indeed London owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade”, and added that “we must question which legacies are being celebrated”.  

Ms Hill said: “I am proud to have lived in Lambeth – and specifically in Brixton – for 42 years.  

“Much has changed in that time. It is my hope that all who live in this historic borough will engage with this consultation and I look forward to hearing your views on who or what you think should be commemorated.”