WE WILL protect it, the people will protect it.

That was the passionate message given to council leaders from residents who gathered to defend the Baden-Powell statue.

The vows came yesterday after reports on the local authority’s intention to temporarily remove the statue of the Scouting movement founder following the listing of it on a website detailing potential targets for protesters.

BCP Council deputy leader Cllr Mark Howell said that this listing could put “the much-loved statue at risk of damage or even destruction”, adding that the site will now receive 24-hour security.

The Poole Town ward member spent much of yesterday at the quay and spoke with concerned residents.

In a back-and-forth exchange in front of the statue, Baiter resident Tommy Stranack, aged 52, said: “Don’t take it down. We don’t want it down.

“Put something around it to protect it. I will stand here 24 hours a day if I have to to protect it.”

Former Scout and Poole resident Len Banister, aged 78, said he would also fight to protect the statue and keep it in situ looking out at Brownsea Island.

The council had initially intended to put the statue into safe storage yesterday, but Cllr Howell said further discussions were needed with contractors on the best way to remove it due to depth of the foundations.

On Thursday morning he had said contractors would not remove the statue with a crowd around it.

“We know that local people feel proud of Lord Baden-Powell’s and the Scout movement’s links with Poole, and that some people feel that we would be giving in to the protesters by temporarily removing the statue,” said Cllr Howell.

“However, we feel it is responsible to protect it for future generations to enjoy and respect.”

He added: “Although we cannot say when any temporary removal may take place, we will be providing 24-hour security until it is either removed or the threat diminishes.

“Should the statue be removed temporarily, barring unforeseen circumstances, we will return it to the quay as soon as the threat level subsides.”

Support for keeping the statue was not completely unanimous yesterday.

Baiter Park resident Valerie Clark said: “I do not think it should be left there and the reason being is he was homophobic and that in itself outweighs all the marvellous things he did.”