The Square Mile’s governing body voted to remove the statue after the Black Lives Matter protests. The controversial statue could be removed and stored in a car park. However, Dr Zareer Masani, a Colonialism historian, suggested that removing the statue was a waste of money.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, he added: “If the City of London wants to atone for having benefited from past slavery, there are far more constructive ways of doing this, instead of wasting large funds on the tokenism of removing statues.
“Public spaces belong to the public.
“They do not belong to self-appointed panels of so-called experts, reflecting fashions of the day.”
Christopher Hayward, the Sheriff of London, said action must be taken on controversial statues because of the “political outcry” that would result if they were to remain.
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The cost of removal is high because an expert stonemason is needed to preserve the statue’s Grade I listed surroundings.
Replacing it “will be problematic”, the experts advised, because any new piece “should be of the same quality” in order to get planning permission.
Mr Beckford, who owned plantations in Jamaica, with up to 3,000 slaves, is honoured with a marble statue inside the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall headquarters.
During his life, Mr Beckford and his family-owned 13 sugar plantations in Jamaica that covered 22,000 acres of land, and were worked by 3,000 enslaved Africans.
He was Lord Mayor of London in the 18th Century.
Of the other controversial pieces of artwork in the City of London, the governing body’s Tackling Racism task force has suggested covering up such images in the interim.
The City of London Corporation said there was a working group tasked to “evaluate a wide range of options for addressing concerns relating to the statues of William Beckford and Sir John Cass in the Guildhall”.