Locals win battle over racist' pub signage

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Related tags: West sussex

The man who caused a rumpus by trying to have a "politically incorrect" historic West Sussex pub sign removed has bowed to public pressure and backed...

The man who caused a rumpus by trying to have a "politically incorrect" historic West Sussex pub sign removed has bowed to public pressure and backed down.

Paul Wilson said he will now return the money he was given in grants after he founded what he called the Pub Sign Project. He claimed the sign at the Labour in Vain at Westergate near Bognor Regis was racist. Wilson said he was now disbanding the organisation because of public opposition. He was given £25,000 from the Countryside Agency's Heritage Lottery Fund out of Community Fund money, £5,000 from the Nationwide, £1,000 from West Sussex County Council and £200 from Arun District Council.

Pub regulars and residents strongly opposed Wilson's move, denying the sign was racist in any way. The double-sided sign shows a white woman scrubbing a little black boy in a tub. One side shows her rubbing away enthusiastically. The other side has her still washing the boy but scratching her head in frustration that he is still black. The paintings are based on an apparent true story of a couple who lived there when it was a private house, and before it became a pub. They went to the West Indies but the wife returned to England before her husband and gave birth to a black baby. She scrubbed and scrubbed, hoping against hope that the baby boy would turn white before her husband returned.

When questioned about the grants, Wilson said very little had been spent and the rest would be sent back. Labour in Vain landlord Steve Bundock said: "There is no way the sign is racist. We have a lot of black people in here and not one of them has found it offensive. If anything it is the white woman who looks stupid. "You can call me anything, but not a racist. The sign is unique ­ the only one of its kind in the country ­ and is part of the area's history."

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