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‘No wish’ for Nelson ward in Great Yarmouth to be renamed

PUBLISHED: 09:24 16 June 2020

A joint statement from Kerry Robinson Payne, Michael Jeal, and Tony Wright said there is

A joint statement from Kerry Robinson Payne, Michael Jeal, and Tony Wright said there is "no wish" to rename Great Yarmouth's Nelson ward amid tensions to do with race and heritage. Picture: Denise Bradley/Great Yarmouth Borough Council/Bill Smith

Denise Bradley/Great Yarmouth Borough Council/Bill Smith

As debates about Britain’s historical figures continue, Great Yarmouth’s Nelson ward says it is sticking with its name.

Trafalgar Day celebrations held at the Nelson Monument, Yarmouth. The town has celebrated its links with the controversial seafarer Picture: Nick ButcherTrafalgar Day celebrations held at the Nelson Monument, Yarmouth. The town has celebrated its links with the controversial seafarer Picture: Nick Butcher

Three councillors who represent the electoral division have spoken out to end confusion, saying there is “no wish” to call it anything else.

The joint statement from Kerry Robinson Payne, Michael Jeal, and Tony Wright comes after Jess Barnard, county councillor for the Norwich ward also named after naval hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, suggested it be renamed amid tensions to do with race and heritage.

A statement on the Yarmouth Nelson ward’s Facebook page said: “The councillors of Great Yarmouth Nelson Ward would like to make it clear they are not advocating a change to the name of the ward.

“A Norfolk county councillor is suggesting the renaming of the division she represents in Norwich - which is also called the Nelson ward.

The Norfok Pillar, Great Yarmouth's monument to Nelson Picture: Google EarthThe Norfok Pillar, Great Yarmouth's monument to Nelson Picture: Google Earth

“Unfortunately this has caused some confusion with residents into the misunderstanding that this refers to Great Yarmouth’s Nelson ward - which it most certainly does not.

“The councillors of Nelson ward, Great Yarmouth, are not of the same opinion.

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“We do not wish to see the name of our historic ward changed in any way, but do appreciate that other people may have differing views.

Michael Jeal and two other Labour colleagues say they support their borough council ward name Picture: Great Yarmouth Borough CouncilMichael Jeal and two other Labour colleagues say they support their borough council ward name Picture: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

“We believe at this particular moment in time there are many more important issues to deal with and hope this has made our position crystal clear on this subject.”

Labour councillor Ms Barnard said her concern revolved around Nelson’s apparent opposition to the abolition of slavery - although others have since leapt to his defence.

She said she favoured renaming the ward to honour one of the “truly great people of Norwich.”

But supporters of Nelson say a 1805 letter he wrote opposing the abolition of slavery has been taken “somewhat out of context”.

Tony Wright, a councillor for Great Yarmouth's Nelson ward. A statement said there had been confusion over the ward's name Photo: Bill SmithTony Wright, a councillor for Great Yarmouth's Nelson ward. A statement said there had been confusion over the ward's name Photo: Bill Smith

Chris Brett, vice-chairman of the Nelson Society, said while renaming wards was “entirely up to the council” they were keen for his actions to be understood within their historical context.

He added: “When slavery was outlawed in Britain in 1807, the navy vigorously applied the law.”

A website called “topple the racists” has compiled a list of around 60 memorials across the UK it argues should be taken down, including Nelson’s Column in London.


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