The debate over what to do with an empty plinth which once carried a statue of slave trader Edward Colston has taken a new twist after efforts were revealed to restore a depiction of a Black Lives Matter protester to the landmark in Bristol city centre.
A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020 was erected on July 15 last year, only to be taken down by Bristol City Council 24 hours later because no approval had been given.
Now those behind putting it up without permission, are seeking just that.
It's emerged Interpolitan Ltd is seeking planning permission to officially reinstate the life-sized statue for a two-year period, and has lodged an appeal because the council failed to make a decision on its planning application.
A government planning inspector must now decide if the black resin and steel sculpture can return. A date for the hearing has yet to be fixed.
The statue of Bristol's Jen Reid, capturing the moment she stood on the plinth with her fist raised in the air after Colston’s statue was toppled on June 7, divided opinion in the city before its removal on the back of a lorry.
If Interpolitan wins the appeal, permission from the landowner – the council – would still be required before the sculpture could be added to the plinth.
Rees said a history commission set up in the wake of the toppling of Colston’s statue would enable people to discuss what they wanted to put on the plinth, adding he believed that leaving it empty was a “powerful statement”.
The We Are Bristol History Commission was established by the council to explore Bristol’s full history, including the part played by black people, women, the working class, trade unions and children.