Pub bosses are free to change the name of the historic Black Bitch pub in Linlithgow to a more “inclusive” name, despite an outcry from locals.
Pub chain Greene King won’t need planning permission to change the name of the bar, West Lothian Council confirmed today.
A row broke out after Greene King confirmed plans to rename the Black Bitch to the Black Hound, saying the title is more inclusive and adding the move is part of its commitment to being an “anti-racist organisation.”
But hundreds of locals had yesterday signed a petition - called Stop the Black Bitch Pub Name Change - demanding the pub keep its original name, which has long been a nickname for local townsfolk and symbolises a well-known local legend dating back to at least the 17th century.
One resident told the Record: “I’m a Black Bitch and proud to be one.”
The Black Bitch name is associated with the town’s coat of arms, which portrays the legend of a greyhound who saved his master when he was sentenced to starve to death on an island in Linlithgow loch.
The pub title is the fifth Greene King have changed in 2021 after they decided to rename three pubs called The Black Boy and another called The Black’s Head.
And it comes after Bathgate’s John Newland Festival changed its name due to his links to slave trade.
Greene King said it worked with a number of groups and organisations before making its decision and undertook independent research, which revealed many punters would no longer feel comfortable visiting the pub under its current name.
Reports yesterday suggested a planning application is now set to be submitted to the local council to physically change the name written on the pub sign.
But an online petition, called Stop the Black Bitch Pub Name Change, had gathered more than 800 signatures on Wednesday.
West Lothian Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that planning consent is not required to change a name and the council had no view on the name change of a private venue.
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We have not received any applications and it is unlikely that advertisement or listed building consents would be required to change the name of a private venue.
“The council as planning authority does not have a remit in determining the suitability of name changes.”
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