United Kingdom

Changing 'offensive' streets names could cost residents hundreds

Changing "offensive" street names could cost residents hundreds of pounds, council officers have warned, and taxpayers may have to compensate households hit by charges.

Altering names linked to slavery and colonialism following Black Lives Matter-inspired reviews would force residents to change address information for their bills, banking, and insurance cover.

The accumulated charges for these changes could run to “several hundred pounds per household and potentially considerably more”, according to council officers in Maidenhead, who examined the expense of renaming “Blackamoor Lane”.  

Planners reviewing the street name for "offensive" connotations warned that the local authority, funded by the taxpayer, would likely have to compensate costs faced by residents.

Officers with Windsor and Maidenhead council said that the process for residents and businesses would be like “moving to a new house or business premises”, with insurance, bills, title deeds, and company paperwork having to be amended.

“In addition to the inconvenience”, an internal note to council directors states, “these there will be costs associated”.

These costs could be faced by residents and business owners on hundreds of streets currently being reviewed across the country in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, with street names linked to slavery, racism, and colonialism highlighted as problematic.   

Camden Council said it will pay out £12,000 after renaming Cecil Rhodes House, home to 72 households, which has been rebranded Park View House.  

The council promised to foot the bill of any costs incurred by residents now faced with paying charges to “update their address with any organisations or on documents”.  

Costs were also considered when Ealing Council controversially renamed a stretch of Havelock Road, named for colonial commander Henry Havelock, after Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak.    

After costs were estimated at £180,000, the renaming of Black Boy Lane by Haringey Council was deferred,  but it has been estimated that at least 24 local authorities are actively reexamining potentially hundreds of street names.  

A Welsh Government audit of sites linked to “the Slave Trade and the British Empire” has identified scores of streets named for Winston Churchill, Lord Kitchener and William Gladstone which could face changes.  

Costly changes have been opposed by Save Our Statues campaigner Robert Poll, who advocates for the preservation of the historic built environment.  

He said: “The number of residents who want names to change is vanishingly small.   

“Councils sit there feeling virtuous, while taxpayers pick up the bill and residents are left picking up the pieces of a huge administrative headache."  

“These changes come with huge costs and you can be sure they're not being met from the pockets of the virtuous councillors.

"Once again, it's the unsuspecting taxpayer that is funding the woke agenda.”

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