Freedom of information response

Contested history in council areas

Publication date: 
Tuesday 14 March 2023
Request: 

I am interested in issues of race in the built environment

For the last year up to date, but inclusive of information and documents from work which may have begun before this period and is still being pursued by the council.

(For example, a project to  identify monument may have begun in 2020, but the list compiled from this project may still be used by the council now)

1

Could you please provide any list or review/research/report/survey of locations (streets/buildings/parks), or public art (such as statues), plaques, commemorations, graves, memorials that the council has produced in relation to slavery, colonialism, empire/British Empire, racism, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, decolonising, racial justice. 

In question form: “What in the built environment has the organisation, or a group working on its behalf, identified as being linked to racism, slavery, colonialism: that is, contested history?”

2

Could you please provide details of what being done to highlight, reinterpret, redisplay, or rename aspects of the environment in the council area identifying in part 1 of this request

In question form:  “What work (such as adding interpretation, or information boards, or plaques close to contested monuments) has been undertaken by the council to address these legacies?

3

If applicable, can you please provide information on what is being done to address issues of slavery, colonialism, empire/British Empire, racism, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, decolonising, racial justice in council museums?

For example, what information boards have been added, what has been taken off display or put on display, what new plaques have been erected?

4

The same as for part 3, but can you provide information on how council libraries have addressed these issues

For example, have any books been specifically banned or removed from the library? Has a system of trigger warnings been established for sensitive topics?

(This can be broad, I do not need an full check of all items in the library; please do not get bogged won in this if it is likely to go over the limit)

5

For the above work to address contested history, can you please provide information any grants received by the council to pursue this work, or any payments or grants made by the council to pursue this work (for example, to a local anti-racism group tasked with identifying contested history)

6

Can you provide information on any schools in the council area that have applied to change their name in relation to issues of contested history

Response: 

1 Could you please provide any list or review/research/report/survey of locations (streets/buildings/parks), or public art (such as statues), plaques, commemorations, graves, memorials that the council has produced in relation to slavery, colonialism, empire/British Empire, racism, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, decolonising, racial justice. 

In question form: “What in the built environment has the organisation, or a group working on its behalf, identified as being linked to racism, slavery, colonialism: that is, contested history?”

None identified

2 Could you please provide details of what being done to highlight, reinterpret, redisplay, or rename aspects of the environment in the council area identifying in part 1 of this request

In question form:  “What work (such as adding interpretation, or information boards, or plaques close to contested monuments) has been undertaken by the council to address these legacies?

No works commissioned

3 If applicable, can you please provide information on what is being done to address issues of slavery, colonialism, empire/British Empire, racism, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, decolonising, racial justice in council museums?

For example, what information boards have been added, what has been taken off display or put on display, what new plaques have been erected?

The Museum Officer has undertaken broad decolonisation training.  They are currently involved in a project which is collecting stories from diverse members of the community about their migration in to Thurrock.

4 The same as for part 3, but can you provide information on how council libraries have addressed these issues

For example, have any books been specifically banned or removed from the library? Has a system of trigger warnings been established for sensitive topics?

(This can be broad, I do not need an full check of all items in the library; please do not get bogged won in this if it is likely to go over the limit)

Stock acquisition adheres to the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Code of Ethics (https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/CILIPEthicsreview). We ensure our collections are as robust as possible to reflect our growing community. To this end, titles within the BAME interest margins have been greatly increased. Thurrock Libraries support Black History Month yearly, and our outreach work seeks to communicate directly with Thurrock’s communities in order to ensure its library services reach and embolden every resident equally and equitably.

As of July 2021, work has commenced on our local studies collection to preserve Thurrock’s black history, and we are working with local-interest groups to secure publications and materials for future generations.

Stock is routinely developed to ensure its relevance and reach, and a process of weeding ensures non-fiction titles do not reflect the erroneous knowledge-base or outdated attitudes of their time. We do not censor, however, editorially-published titles or authors unless their work is illegally defamatory, as per the MLA Guidelines:

“Access [to information] should not be restricted on any grounds except that of the law. If publicly available material has not incurred legal penalties then it should not be excluded on moral, political, religious, racial or gender grounds, to satisfy the demands of sectional interest.”

We have no formal trigger warning process, but within the stock purchasing team are qualified librarians with the training and professional mindset to ensure our libraries’ collections are selected to the ethics and guidelines mentioned.

5 For the above work to address contested history, can you please provide information any grants received by the council to pursue this work, or any payments or grants made by the council to pursue this work (for example, to a local anti-racism group tasked with identifying contested history)

No known funding received or provided to a third party

6  Can you provide information on any schools in the council area that have applied to change their name in relation to issues of contested history?

This information is not held. All our schools are all academies and as such this would need to be directed to them individually.

You are free to use any information supplied to you for your own use, including non-commercial research purposes.  However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of the copyright owner.

Where the copyright is owned by Thurrock Council, you must apply to the Council to re-use the information.  Please email information.matters@thurrock.gov.uk if you wish to re-use the information you have been supplied. For information where the copyright is owned by another person or organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their permission.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which the council have managed your FOI request you can pursue an Internal Review by contacting us using the above email address. Your request will be considered by a senior member of the Information Management Team who will update you with the outcome of the review. 

If you remain unhappy following the outcome of your Internal Review you may wish to refer your case to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and details of this organisation can be found at www.ico.org.uk . Please be advised that the ICO will not consider your case until they have confirmation that you have already been through the Internal Review stage with the council.

Request reference:
FOI 12592