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Council accused of allowing people to ‘disrespect’ plaque to Captain James Cook

PUBLISHED: 16:04 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:41 20 February 2018

Graffiti covers the wall surrounding the memorial in Mile End Road. Picture: Peter Golds

Graffiti covers the wall surrounding the memorial in Mile End Road. Picture: Peter Golds

Archant

The council has been slammed after a wall with a plaque dedicated to one of the ‘greatest ever Brits’ was left covered with graffiti and rubbish dumped nearby..

Captain James Cook died at the age of 50 in 1779. Picture: National Maritime Museum Captain James Cook died at the age of 50 in 1779. Picture: National Maritime Museum

Councillor Peter Golds said the town hall is allowing people to disrespect the memorial in honour of explorer Captain James Cook in Mile End Road.

The Conservative politician for Island Gardens ward told the Advertiser the wall surrounding the plaque is graffiti-covered, with so much rubbish piled up against it at times that the plaque is almost entirely concealed.

He said: “How and why can Tower Hamlets allow the neglect of a memorial to one of this nation’s greatest figures?

“If this vandalism had been in Kensington or Fulham, people would be appalled.

Cllr Peter Golds is a Conservative councillor in Tower Hamlets. Picture: Archant Cllr Peter Golds is a Conservative councillor in Tower Hamlets. Picture: Archant

“It wouldn’t take much for the council to clean it, and I think if they did, people would take more notice of it.”

Born in Middlesborough in 1728, Captain Cook, whose achievements includes mapping the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia, spent most of his adult life in east London.

He lived in Wapping before moving to Mile End.

The plaque was unveiled in 1970 to commemorate 200 years since he reached the east coast of Australia and he was voted twelfth in a BBC poll of the greatest ever Brits.

Cllr Golds added: “Throughout the world there are memorials to James Cook.

“Elsewhere in Europe, such a memorial would be the site of a museum – coach parties would be pulling over to visit.”

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said: “As soon as they were alerted to the reports of discarded rubbish and graffiti in the vicinity of the plaque, our clean team responded to carry out a site visit.

“The street and pavement was found to be clear of rubbish. It is located on a route that is usually cleared three times a day.

“There is some graffiti on the wall underneath and beside the memorial plaque which is disappointing to see. However, while the wall faces onto the public highway, it is privately owned. As such, the council cannot carry out potentially abrasive procedures such as graffiti removal without the consent of the owner.

“We are committed to keeping Tower Hamlets clean and tidy for the benefit of all those who live and work here and we will be contacting the person responsible for the wall to try to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

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