Mural depicting notable locals from Yorkshire town slammed for not including BAME people

A new mural put up in Driffield depicting local notables was not intended to attract “negative publicity” after some slammed it for failing to depict BAME people.

The mural in Driffield

Driffield Town Council said the mural, recently put up in Middle Road North, featured well-known local business owners as a tribute to those “ravaged” by the coronavirus pandemic.

The council also said it wanted to make a fence screening the building of a new care home “more attractive” by putting up the artwork.

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But some locals, residents and social media users took to Facebook criticising the project which one said “screams welcome to our white town”.

The ‘Wall of Fame’ mural, unveiled in front of Middle Road North’s former post office this week, features several local shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other personalities.

It followed the installation of decorative umbrellas and new hanging baskets designed to spruce up the town as it looks to attract more visitors in the wake of the pandemic.

Driffield Mayor Coun Matt Rogers said following its unveiling: “We knew the development would take some time and felt that this mural highlighting some of the well-known town centre business figures would add interest and hopefully attract more visitors and shoppers to Middle Street North.”

Locals took to social media to air their views about the mural which has since proved divisive.

Some approved of the project, with one describing it as “thoughtful and personal” but others criticised it for failing to depict figures from ethnic minority groups.

BAME local Kerrie Woodhouse-Dove wrote on Facebook that although she liked the idea, it could have been “a little more inclusive”.

She commented: “It just screams welcome to our white town, obviously been a minority is even more reinforced by this which is a shame really.”

Laura Geary commented: “So there’s not a single person of colour personality in your town you’d like to recognise? Driffield looks like such a diverse, welcoming place [facepalm emoji].”

Sarah Wilkinson commented asking why the mural did not feature BAME professional footballer turned boxer Curtis Woodhouse who was brought up in Driffield.

She wrote: “He does so much for the kids in the community, yet he’s not worthy of being on your ‘Wall of Fame’. Was he even asked if he wanted to be apart of if, or doesn’t he fit into your nice little town?”

However, Mr Woodhouse took to Twitter to have his say on the mural. He wrote: "It's pretty quick and pretty basic but when I saw it I thought ah that looks nice, it's a bit white though!

"I'm very lucky that I work with absolutely everybody, all creeds, all colours, all religions and get on with everybody because that's what I choose to do! I actually like the painting, it brightens up the area. I'm very proud to be born and raised in Driffield, northfield crescents finest! One race, the human race."

Cassie Entwistle said: “Oooh what a very white town. You got no people of colour there?”

Jessica Jordan commented the art work was a “missed opportunity”.

But others came to the mural’s defence.

Facebook user Sarah Fawcett commented that she hoped it could one day become a “permanent fixture”.

She wrote: “This looks brilliant, I would’ve liked to have thought this picture could’ve had a more permanent fixture somewhere once the building work is done.

“Love how you have brought together the familiar faces of Driffield businesses and made something like this, think it is really thoughtful and personal to our town.”

Julie Ringrose wrote also on Facebook: “Looks great and was being much admired as I walked past.”

Siobhan Palmer commented: “This is really brilliant.”

The town council said: “The panels depict images of a number of well-known personalities who either own or work in the shops and businesses based entirely in the town centre.

“Some are members of the Town Centre Steering Group and it was intended as a tribute to the independent businesses who have been ravaged by the pandemic.

“The whole idea of the panels was to provide an attractive temporary image whilst the new care home was constructed, to attract more people to this neglected area of town and provide a much needed boost to the businesses in Middle Street North.

“The people shown run businesses and shops in Middle Street North, Market Place and Middle Street South, also known as the Northern and Station Quarters.

“The Town Council and the Steering Group are working hard to support local businesses and this mural is an attempt to boost the town not to cause negative publicity.”