Councillor launches petition to site Windrush memorial in Brixton

Cllr Winifred with young performers at this year's Windrush Day event in Brixton's Windrush Square
Cllr Winifred with young performers at this year’s Windrush Day event in Brixton’s Windrush Square

A senior Lambeth council member has launched a petition opposing plans to site the official Windrush generation memorial at Waterloo.

Councillor Sonia Winifred, cabinet member for equalities and culture, told the Blog: “Windrush Square in Lambeth is the rightful site for a monument to the Windrush Generation. Not Waterloo station”.

Prime minister Theresa May announced the proposed site for the memorial on 22 June – the first government backed and funded Windrush Day

The decision, by a committee headed by local resident Baroness Floella Benjamin, was greeted with dismay by Windrush campaigners – both because of the site and because of the continuing plight of the hundreds of children of the Windrush Generation whose lives have been destroyed by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy.

Arthur Torrington, chair of the Windrush Foundation, told The Guardian newspaper that the government was treating the Caribbean community like children by not consulting key groups. He said only 13 victims of the policy have so far received emergency support from the government.

Karen Doyle, national organiser of the anti-racism campaign Movement for Justice, said a memorial was important and welcome, but “ripping up the hostile environment polices would be a fitting monument”.

At a Windrush Day ceremony in Brixton, Vincent McBean, chair of West Indian Association of Service Personnel (WASP), told the audience: “I have been in this country 58 years. I am 63 years of age. I have been in the Army seven years. I have been in action. I have come under fire; returned fire.

“And only last year, October to be precise, was I given a little letter from the Home Office to say I am a British citizen. That tells you what’s happening.”

Cllr Winifred’s petition on change.org says that, while it was right to choose Lambeth to celebrate the arrival of the Windrush Generation, Brixton’s Windrush Square, and not Waterloo, was the right place for a memorial.

Up to £1 million of government money is available for the project.

“Windrush Square is home to the Black Cultural Archives, the only historical institution of its kind in this country dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of African Caribbean people in Britain,” said Cllr Winifred.

“What better recognition of the contributions of the Windrush Generation than to have this monument in Windrush Square alongside the Black Cultural Archives. providing both historical and educational experience of the Windrush Generation for generations to come.”

Lambeth council cabinet member for planning, investment and new homes Matthew Bennett told a recent London Property Club event of plans to create a new public square in front of Waterloo station by closing one side of the existing giant roundabout in front of it to traffic.

“When you come out of Waterloo, you would not be confronted with roads but a square with access to public spaces on the South Bank,” he said.

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