Exeter council leader calls for review into future of city’s General Buller statue

Exeter council chiefs will review the future of the city’s statue of General Buller.

The landmark, which stands on the corner of New North Road and Hele Road outside the entrance to Exeter College, was erected in 1905.

All Labour-led local authorities have agreed to listen to communities to review the appropriateness of monuments on public land.

A motion to review the future of the Exeter statue will be tabled at a meeting of the city council in July.

General Sir Redvers Buller was a controversial figure – with rumours persisting he had a hand in the introduction of concentration camps seen during the Boer War.

Exeter City Council leader Phil Bialyk said: “I feel the time is right to carry out a review, taking into account the views of people in our city.

“Exeter is a diverse community which in the main is at peace with itself. It’s important how we remember and teach future generations about our history.

“We will consult on how we do this. But it isn’t my gift or that of my colleagues to make a unilateral decision, it’s one that the whole city must come to terms with.

The General Buller statue in Exeter. Image: Robert Eva/Geograph

The General Buller statue in Exeter. Image: Robert Eva/Geograph

“The values and sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter movement are incredibly important to myself and colleagues.

“We will listen to opinions and use the platforms that we have as politicians to make sure that all voices are heard.”

The statue was paid for by money raised by the people of Devon and unveiled on ‘Buller Day’ in 1905.

It is currently situated on land owned by Devon County Council, with the monument itself maintained by the city authority.

The statue was given Grade II listed preservation status in 1953, so any complete or partial removal or relocation would require a public consultation, planning permission, and the go-ahead from Historic England.

Buller served in Canada, China and most famously in South Africa in the Zulu Wars.

It was during these that an operation he led went wrong and he had to withdraw under intense fire.

Some have alleged that he was partly responsible for the creation of British ‘concentration camps’ where thousands of people died.

The statue of Buller on his horse has previously been vandalised.

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