Street name change engagement period extended
By Luchia Robinson
Haringey Council’s corporate committee has deferred its decision on the proposal to rename Black Boy Lane, announcing that more engagement needs to take place with residents following a meeting that took place on 17th March.
The renaming consultation for Black Boy Lane is part of the council’s review on monuments, building, place and street names aimed at ensuring that public spaces across Haringey are reflective and respectful of the communities living within the borough.
Council leader, Cllr Joseph Ejiofor supports the name change, he told Tottenham Community Press: “Words matter. Language can be a tool for inspirational change, or it can be a tool for oppression and ignorance.
“Nowadays the phrase ‘Black boy’ is most commonly used as a derogatory term aimed at African heritage men. If we were naming the street now, we would not be calling it Black Boy Lane. The question really is whether or not this is an appropriate name for a street here in Haringey.”
64% of those who participated in the consultation exercise supported the change to rename the road La Rose Lane, however 72% of respondents living on the street itself objected to the specific proposals.
Black Boy Lane resident Anne Taylor objects the road name change. Speaking to TCP, Anne said: “The council plans to spend a minimum of £70,000 on a symbolic gesture, while wildly inconveniencing the residents of the street with an endless bureaucratic nightmare as well as consequential out of pocket expenses.
“I personally would like to see that budget used to help the many minorities in Haringey that are increasingly in desperate need during the pandemic.
“Giving our BAME kids a fighting chance to become great people is the best way to banish systemic racism in the future and make Haringey a real trailblazer. Unfortunately, it is harder and much less of a mediatic coup for the council leader than renaming our street.”
The associated costs facing residents living on the road, as well as the administrative disruption the name change would cause, have been named as some of the reasons against the name change decision.
Haringey Councillor, Cllr Culverwell Eldridge (Stroud Green, Labour) is opposed to renaming Black Boy Lane. Discussing his experience of growing up in apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia, Cllr Eldridge said: “I grew up in a time in history, when everything associated with Black was bad, and racism levied against Black people was rife and horrendous in every type of language used.
“During the 60s and 70s, the rise of the Black power movements buried the notion that Black was bad. I feel absolutely aggrieved that this council under the leadership of Cllr Joseph Ejiofor is pushing back the years of racial equality attainment, by saying Black is bad.
“The notion that the term ‘Black boy’ is deemed racist is regressive.”
The corporate committee has a legal obligation to take any objections into account, particularly those of the residents and organisations who live on the street.
In the light of the anticipated easing of the covid-19 restrictions, the corporate committee has agreed that the council should undertake further engagement with the local residents, before it makes a final decision on the renaming of Black Boy Lane.
Cllr Diakides, chair of the corporate committee, said: “I want to thank all those who put forward their views during the consultation periods; we are extremely grateful for your response during this difficult time and I want to assure everybody that the council takes seriously all the views expressed.
“I know that many Haringey residents and councillors, are keen to see progress made as soon as possible and, also, to properly respond to any concerns expressed.
“The renaming consultation has prompted a number of important discussions about race, equality, diversity and representation across the borough. These issues, and conversations, matter.
“This would be the first initiative of its kind and scale in the country, with other councils working on similar proposals and watching us to learn from our experience; it is therefore imperative that we get it right and maximise public support and consensus, in order to minimise the risks of misunderstandings, unnecessarily alienating people, or doing more harm than good.”
For more information: www.haringey.gov.uk/renaming-black-boy-lane
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