Edinburgh City Authorities Decide on New Plaque for Contentious Melville Monument

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Edinburgh’s famed Melville Monument, standing tall at 150 feet, is slated to receive a fresh bronze plaque to replace the one taken down earlier, shedding light on the disputed figure, Henry Dundas. City representatives reached a consensus during a recent session at the City Chambers, deciding that the replacement plaque would be affixed within two months.

The saga commenced when members of a certain family removed the original plaque, triggering an investigation by Police Scotland, who recently reopened the case. A representative for the police revealed that information received from the local council is currently under evaluation.

In a motion passed on Thursday, December 14, city representatives expressed their “dismay and shock” over the removal of the plaque and the absence of legal consequences for the perpetrator, who openly admitted to the act. They called for an update on the prosecution process and questioned why no arrest or charge had been made.

An individual, identified as a descendant of Henry Dundas, defended the actions of the ‘Monument Committee’ (MC), asserting that they had acted within the law when removing the plaque in September. The descendant argued that the local authority had no right to install it in the first place.

The controversy surrounding the plaque dates back to 2020 when it was originally installed following debates sparked by a social justice movement. Representatives agreed on wording that accused Henry Dundas of being “instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade” during his tenure as a certain official.

The descendant dismissed the wording as “misleading” and accused non-historians of creating it during the height of the related demonstrations in 2020. They claimed that the MC had obtained proper planning permission to remove the plaque, which they believe was executed in line with their legal obligations.

Despite a granted planning application to remove the plaque in March, the council deemed it was approved “on a technicality” and argued that as the application didn’t come from the statue’s owner, the plaque couldn’t be removed.

The descendant, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, asserted, “The MC has taken senior expert legal advice and is confident that we took all proper steps before removing the plaque. The MC intends to continue to honor its legal obligations.”

In response to the removal, the council threatened legal action against Henry Dundas’ descendants unless the plaque was returned promptly. However, the entrepreneur and adventurer swiftly refused the request.

Initial police involvement was spurred by a city representative, who asked them to investigate the matter. However, they initially stated that “no criminality was established.” A council leader later revealed in October that an “official report” had been filed with the police after the refusal to return the plaque.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland commented, “On Thursday, October 26, 2023, we received a report of a theft from a monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Information received is currently being assessed.”

As the controversy continues, the city awaits the installation of the replacement plaque and potential developments in the ongoing police investigation. The Melville Monument stands as a symbol not only of historical figures but also of the challenges faced by modern society in grappling with its complex past.

Lauren Redford
Lauren Redfordhttps://newswriteups.com/
Journalist Lauren Redford is a seasoned business journalist who focuses on regional areas throughout the United Kingdom. With her expertise and dedication, Lauren brings insightful coverage of local communities and their economic landscapes. With a meticulous approach and a passion for storytelling, she uncovers stories that resonate with readers and offers a deeper understanding of the business world. Lauren's commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news makes her a valuable member of the News Write Ups team. lauren@newswriteups.com

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