I applaud Stroud District Council’s decision to review local monuments, plaques, buildings, street names or other representations of history in the wake of issues highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Residents are being asked to tell the council if there are any street or building names and monuments in the district that might be inconsistent with modern values and Stroud district’s desire to be an inclusive and welcoming place to live.

Prominent among the historic features of the town – and already under review - is the Blackboy clock on Blackboy House in Castle Street. The 18th century clock features a figure of a black boy, who strikes the hour every hour with a club.

The statue was made at a time when the Transatlantic slave trade – from which Gloucestershire profited - was at its height. The boy’s image certainly came directly or indirectly from the influence of slavery and colonialism.

On the other hand, the clock is a rare example of the clockmaking craft, an iconic feature of the town, and aesthetically a thing of beauty. Should it be removed, or renamed, as an inappropriate reminder of the slave trade? Or would that just mean conveniently erasing from our collective conscience a chapter of history that should be acknowledged and remembered? How would removing one of our few artistic representations of black faces sit with our desire to embrace diversity?

Instead, perhaps the boy should be left where he is, perhaps with a plaque as a memorial to this unjust part of our history, to stimulate dialogue and consciousness of the darker elements of our past? We might perhaps see him as a memorial to the abolition of slavery, rather like the Anti-Slavery Arch in Paganhill.

Whatever readers’ point of view on how history should be commemorated in Stroud, their views will be welcomed by the council as it consults on these issues. Maybe there are other names that ought to be celebrated via statues and other commemorations, to ensure that in future ‘history’ marks the achievements of underrepresented and overlooked groups.

I also welcome the council’s invitation to residents to comment on its draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. The consultation is open for comments until 18 August 2021; this is a great chance for everyone to have their say.

Lucas Schoemaker, district councillor for Trinity Ward, Stroud