DENBIGH residents are set to vote on whether or not a controversial statue in the town is to stay standing or not.

A public consultation on the hotly debated future of the Sir Henry Morton (HM) Stanley statue, located outside the town library, is set to take place more than a year after it was promised.

Denbigh’s tribute to the explorer, fashioned in bronze by North Wales artist Nick Elphick, has been a talking point for a decade but not always for positive reasons.

After a raft of protests last year, sparked by Black Lives Matter demonstrations, activists called for the effigy of arguably the town’s most famous son to be removed.

Denbigh Town Council, which commissioned the piece, held a meeting in June 2020 to discuss its future.

Members voted 6-5 to keep it in lieu of a public consultation on whether to retain it long-term or move it from the wider public’s gaze.

Mayor at the time of the debate, Cllr Gaynor Wood-Tickle, promised people in Denbigh a “democratic vote” and full public consultation on the matter.

Now, on both Friday, October 15 and Saturday 16, locals will cast their votes and end the uncertainty surrounding the statue for good.

A statement from Denbigh Town Council read: "Due to the mass coverage of public statues of controversial historical figures last year the town council decided the decision whether the statue of H M Stanley remain or be removed, be the decision of the residents of Denbigh.

"Voting will take place in the Town Hall over two days. Friday October 15 between 10am and 7pm or Saturday October 16 between 10am and 1pm.

"Voting will be open to Denbigh residents aged 16 and above. You will need two forms of identification. One photo identification and one with your address on.

"If you are unable to attend or know of someone who can’t attend, please phone or text 07554679169 or email by October 14th and we will arrange an alternative way to vote. If you are aged between 16 and 18 and are having difficulty in getting two forms of identification please get in touch.

"Once the votes have been counted and checked the town council will announce the outcome."

Journalist and explorer HM Stanley is synonymous with the phrase “Dr Livingstone, I presume”, after finding the Scottish explorer who had been lost in central Africa.

Stanley, born John Rowlands, started life fatherless in Denbigh in 1841 and was put into the Asaph workhouse in nearby St Asaph.

He emigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he reinvented himself.

He fought in the American Civil war, became a journalist and then a noted explorer – finding the source of the Nile, mapping central Africa’s Great Lakes and also the borders of the present day Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stanley is controversial to some because of links with Belgian King Leopold II, for whom he worked for a time and his own alleged treatment of indigenous workers and guides.

The monarch committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State – now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However his supporters say Stanley was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.