Leeds residents asked for views on city’s blue plaques scheme

They were launched more than 30 years ago to celebrate and commemorate significant people, events and buildings in Leeds.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 6:00 am
The blue plaque dedicated to socialist and suffragette Mary Gawthorpe. PIC: Leeds Civic Trust

Leeds Civic Trust is responsible for one of the largest blue plaques schemes in the country and since 1989 has put up 180 across the city.

Most blue plaques are nominated by members of the public with the Trust installing around six each year.

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Susan Pitter. PIC: Joanne Crawford

An independent review of the Trust’s Blue Plaques scheme was launched last year chaired by PR and cultural heritage consultant Susan Pitter.

The review asks who and what Leeds Civic Trust represents in plaque form, how it makes its decisions and what criteria they use - with the hope that the findings will support the future development of the scheme.

The 2020 global response to racial injustice, the 2020 murder of George Floyd in the US and subsequent international Black Lives Matter protests demonstrated the significance and symbolism of public statues, monuments, and plaques. The recent announcement from the government that the removal of statues and plaques will require planning permission in future has brought added significance to this work.

Leeds Civic Trust is now keen to ask members of the public, via a quick and anonymous survey, if its plaques scheme represents the history of the city.

Other answers to questions it is keen to find out include - do we properly and honestly address our city’s colonial past? can a scheme in which more than 50 per cent? of our plaques cover the Victorian era be a true reflection of the history of our city? Are the Trust’s decision making processes transparent and our criteria appropriate?

Representation is important to the Trust and we are committed to ensuring that the scheme better recognises those who have been traditionally under-represented in

history (and are under-represented in our plaques scheme), including members of the black and BME communities.

A link to the independent and anonymous survey can be found here: Leeds Civic Trust Blue Plaques Review (smartsurvey.co.uk)

Trust director, Martin Hamilton, said: "Leeds Civic Trust is proud to be responsible for the city’s blue plaques scheme, and although we have worked to increase the diversity of our plaques in recent years, much more needs to be done to ensure that the plaques scheme better reflects the diverse and rich stories we know this city has to tell.”

He added: "To help us do this, we’re asking the people of Leeds for their thoughts by completing a quick survey available via our website. By sharing your reflections, you’ll be

contributing to how we commemorate this city’s heritage.”

Leeds Civic Trust is a membership-based organisation aimed at promoting the improvements of Leeds in the spheres of planning, architecture, heritage and city amenities.


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Laura Collins