Baden-Powell statue boarded up after appearing on target list

Council workers board up the statue of Robert Baden-Powell Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

A statue of Robert Baden-Powell that was due to be removed has been boarded up by council workers.

The local council had announced that the statue of the founder of the Scout Movement in Poole Quay, Dorset, would be temporarily taken down after it was put on a target list of controversial monuments around the UK.

Those campaigning for the monument to be removed have highlighted Baden-Powell's associations with the Nazis and the Hitler Youth programme - as well as his actions in the military.

But the removal, due to take place on Thursday, was delayed after a crowd of people - some wearing Scout uniforms - gathered around the statue and vowed to protect it.

A Dorset flag and a Union flag on the statue. Credit: PA

More than 36,000 people have signed a petition calling for the statue to remain in place.

The controversy around the statue follows the tearing down of a statue of slave trader [Edward Colston by protesters in Bristol](http://Torn down Edward Colston statue recovered from Bristol harbour).

It has prompted a move by Labour councils across England and Wales to start reviewing monuments and statues of figures with associations to the slave trade and imperialism.

While in Scotland, the National Trust has condemned the vandalism of a statue of Robert the Bruce.

The words "racist king BLM" have been sprayed in white paint on the plinth of the statue at the Battle of Bannockburn site in Stirling, along with "Black Lives Matter" on the ground in front.

On the wall of the A-listed rotunda nearby, the words "Robert was a racist" and "bring down the statue" have been scrawled.

National Trust Scotland has condemned the vandalism of a statue of Robert the Bruce and the nearby rotunda. Credit: National Trust for Scotland/PA

Commenting on the boarding up of the Baden-Powell statue, Mark Howell, deputy leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, told the PA news agency: "The safest thing and most protective thing would be to lift it out and put it into secure storage.

"It has become clear that some people feel that is giving in to protesters and we should just leave it to be vandalised, which is ridiculous because our obligation is to protect it for the future.

"The more valid point that people have been raising is that the council might not put it back in there.

"My assurance is that it would go back but I am not going to be at the council forever.

"So it gives people more security for the long-term future if we board it up.”

Mr Howell said scaffolding panels would be erected around the statue, which overlooks Brownsea Island, where Baden-Powell held his first experimental camp in 1907.

He acknowledged, however, that it would not be "as secure" as placing the monument into storage.

A group assembled on the pier to 'protect' the statue after the council said it would be moved. Credit: PA

The statue appeared on a target list that emerged following a raft of anti-racism and Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis last month.

Campaigners have highlighted Baden-Powell's associations with the Nazis and the Nazi Youth Programme.

Dorset Police confirmed that it had been "identified as a potential target" but said officers had not advised the council to remove it.

Dan Davies, 37, from Poole, set up his tent next to the statue after hearing about the potential threat.

"It is something that is close to my heart. When I saw this happening, I set my tent up and I’ve been here since," Mr Davies said.

"I don’t think people understand the good of the Scout movement. People are failing to see the goodness.

"It is a risk that it is on the list of statues. We are taking the threat seriously."

Council workers board up the controversial statue. Credit: PA

The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) said it was following reports about the possible removal of the Baden-Powell statue.

In a statement on Friday, the organisation said Baden-Powell, who was born in 1857, had lived "in a different era with different realities".

It said the movement he set up more than 113 years ago now has 54 million Scouts in 224 countries and territories.

"Scouting offers an inclusive environment to bring young people of all races, cultures and religions together, and creates opportunities for dialogue about how to promote peace, justice and equality," the WOSM said.

"The movement that was founded in 1907 on Brownsea Island stands strong in its promotion of diversity and inclusion which are cornerstones of Scouting's values, while denouncing all forms of racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice."

It said Scouts across the world attached "historical value and symbolis" to the birthplace of the movement.