EDINBURGH City Council has issued a formal apology on behalf of the city for its historical role in slavery and colonialism.

The city’s lord provost, Robert Aldridge, made the apology during a meeting of the city council on Thursday.

Aldridge said: “It is impossible to look out from this building across the city and not see how the landscape of the city was shaped by the wealth generated from colonialism and slavery.

“The effects of colonialism and slavery are deeply embedded in the fabric of our city, in the buildings, in the institutions and even in the way that Edinburgh is laid out.

“We cannot deny the benefits that the city has accrued over the years from the exploitation of others and in particular the continent and peoples of Africa.”

READ MORE: We're offering a year-long subscription – at the price you can afford

Under an action plan set out by the council, the city will start observing the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23 every year.

And starting from 2023, the city will begin work on re-presenting statues, buildings and street names that have a legacy linked to slavery and colonialism.

It was recommended that an apology be made on behalf of the city before that work started, however.

The apology comes amid a row over a controversial plaque at the base of a statue of Henry Dundas in St Andrew Square, as it was changed to say he was “instrumental” in holding up the abolition of the slave trade in the 18th century.

Aldridge’s apology follows similar statements from councils in Glasgow, Liverpool and London.

The lord provost added: “Coming to terms with our past and recognising the detriment our ancestors have wrought through colonialism and slavery is very difficult for us all.

“But try we must to reconcile our past with the generations of today in order that we can move forward, united in our common goals of equality, fraternity and liberty.”

The council’s strategy was devised by Jamaican-born professor Sir Geoff Palmer and states that several high-profile locations around the city have historical links to slavery.

The plan noted that 74 slave-owning residents of the city’s New Town were compensated for the loss of their “property” following abolition.

It was also mentioned that the official residence of the First Minister, Bute House, had previously been owned by beneficiaries of the slave trade.

Palmer emphasised the importance of education in addressing race-based historical injustices and noted in his report that while the slave trade had played a role in shaping the city, it had “largely been hidden” from the public.

The council’s next step will be to set up an independent legacy commission, which will be in charge of coordinating remaining actions and liaising with stakeholders across the city.