Funding for John Archer Statue Approved

Monument to London's first black mayor could be in place by 2022

Love Battersea group has called for John Archer to be commemorated
John Archer. Picture: Wandsworth Council

Wandsworth Council has unanimously approved funding for a new statue of John Archer, past Mayor of Battersea, and London’s first black mayor, on the first day of Black History Month.

The council is planning to establish a charitable entity to help with fundraising and oversight of the project, and will agree to pledge £10,000 as seed funding.

The statue will be placed in Battersea in a “high-profile location” with “substantial footfall.”

Initial ideas include adjacent to the Battersea Arts Centre or in Battersea

The council intends to use an artist “of national significance and ideally someone of an Afro-Caribbean or African heritage,” and will create education programmes about the life and works of John Archer through the borough’s libraries and schools.

It is hoped the statue will be erected in 2022.

Speaking at this Thursday’s finance, resources and climate sustainability overview and scrutiny committee (1 October ) Labour councillor, Simon Hogg, said John Archer is “a hero in Battersea’s radical history and I think it will be fantastic to remember him with a statue”.

He added, “Let’s honour his legacy with more than just a statue, a century on we still need action so we can all enjoy good healthcare, quality of education, equal access to justice, so the statue will be an excellent statement but Battersea remains a divided community.”

He stressed: “Symbolism is important but local people will continue to judge the council on its actions.”

Cllr Kemi Akinola, deputy leader of the opposition, said she welcomed the paper on the first day of Black History Month, but questioned the council’s use of the term Afro-Caribbean as “outdated,” which was acknowledged by the Assistant Chief Executive of the council.

In a later debate on borough-wide Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), the opposition proposed an amendment to strengthen the monitoring process to ensure it is effective and working fairly, by looking at gender, age and ethnicity of offenders.

The Conservative majority group argued they were in favour of the sentiment but said many of the measurements already happen and some may not be legally or operationally possible.

They also argued it would cause a two-tier system between the fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued under PSPOs and all other FPNs

The amendment failed to pass, with five votes for and seven votes against.


Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

October 5, 2020