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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Following my consideration on the origins of West Green's Black Boy name back in the summer, Haringey Council has decided to rename Black Boy Lane in West Green.

The Council have called the exercise  a 'renaming consultation', but the online questionnaire offers only the ability to choose from a shortlist of two new names. So it appears that the decision to rename has already been taken with only the choice of name left to be decided.

They have issued the following press release.

The council has launched a renaming consultation with residents and businesses located on Black Boy Lane, as part of the wider Review on Monuments, Buildings, Place and Street Names in Haringey – which was launched on 12 June 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The council believes that the names of our monuments, buildings, places and streets must reflect the values and diversity that we are so proud of in the borough. One of the street names that has been identified as not being reflective of this is Black Boy Lane.

Meanings change over time, and the term “Black Boy” is now most commonly used as a derogatory name for African heritage men.

As part of the consultation, the council is asking residents to consider new alternative names that celebrate some of the borough’s most notable influencers, and truly reflect the borough’s rich heritage.

The two names that have been shortlisted for residents to consider are, ‘Jocelyn Barrow Lane’ and ‘La Rose Lane’. The consultation will launch today, Monday 28 September and will run for a period of 4 weeks to Monday 26 October 2020.

Letters will be arriving on Black Boy Lane residents' doorsteps this week, who can respond to the consultation using one of the following methods:

If Haringey residents have concerns or queries about place, street or building names in the borough, please get in touch. Send your views to Leader@haringey.gov.uk.


Bios:

Dame Jocelyn Anita Barrow (15 April 1929 – 9 April 2020) was a Barbadian/Trinidadian British educator, community activist and politician, who was the Director for UK Development at Focus Consultancy Ltd. She was the first Black woman to be a governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and was founder and Deputy Chair of the Broadcasting Standards Council.

John La Rose was a publisher, poet and essayist. He founded the Caribbean Artists’ Movement and publishing company New Beacon Books which has a bookshop in Stroud Green. In 1975, he co-founded the Black Parents Movement from the core of the parents involved in the George Padmore Supplementary School incident in which a young Black schoolboy was beaten up by the police outside his school in Haringey.

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Tags for Forum Posts: blackboy lane name change, review on monuments, building place and street names

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The Guardian

Tell us: Has your UK local council taken down a statue?

For those who want to comment outside of 'this space'.

No chance to comment but a determined effort to collect information about initiatives like Haringey's review. Tho' Haringey does not get a look in. 

I have no idea if this is a left wing or a right wing think tank, or if indeed it is actually thoughtful.

Big one incoming! Grab a cuppa, grab a biscuit – better bring it the whole box…

First, I realised I have never made clear what my stance is on the symbolism of renaming Black Boy Lane. I agree that it is not a name that would be chosen today, I personally believe there is nothing wrong about a black boy, contrarily to what Joe Ejiofor and the committee seems to think, but I am not as dim as not to recognise and understand the sentiment behind of choosing a less controversial name at one point.

What I have been fighting against from the start is the way has been the fairness and inclusivity of the process.

The renaming committee does not need any form of agreement from the residents of the street or Haringey in general. The effort of engaging the residents to voice their concerns have been severely lacking. For instance, our latest letter has a free post envelope, great for elderly/people without internet access to answer, but did not include an answer slip.

I took a photo of everything that was in the envelope, attached. I checked with 4 people in the street, it wasn’t just my envelope, it can easily be checked.

It could have been an innocent oversight, but it is very telling about the importance our council puts in its voters’ views.

As was Mr Ejiofor presence in our street not long ago, for the BBC cameras – but no attempt to knock at our doors, say hello, have a quick chat. There for the cameras. Not for his constituents.

Ah, yes, there is a pandemic, we have to be careful. Said pandemic is severely limiting the residents abilities to meet. I could take my laptop and let my elderly neighbours use it and at least feel they are heard and put their own arguments across, since there is no answer slip formatted like it is online, and have the chance for the council to get an updated and accurate data about the people affected, but I am not going to take even the smallest risk contaminating my neighbours. It’s impossible.

We still have not seen the documents (apparently 6 letters) allowing the name of John la Rose to be used, after the very public letter forbidding it from the Padmore Institute. Nor has the rest of the council.

We still not have seen a finalised budget number. Taking information from various council statements, it is between £5 and £10K for signage and since there are roughly 140 households (about 90 houses, some single residency, some 2 or more flats) offered a gesture of goodwill of £300, back of the envelope maths is smallest budget on this - £47,000.

Come on, Haringey! Any suggestions to use that amount of money to improve and advance the cause and helping minorities/BAME other than changing a street sign?

Let’s take all black boy street signs down (that has already started, the one near chestnut Park is mysteriously gone - 3 weeks before the official ‘decision’, timing a bit suspicious) then, only the residents of the street will know their address and continue to be fine with it.

Coming back on the timing – this is culminating during the absolute PEAK of the pandemic and just when a new law against renaming street/monuments/statues for Virtue Signaling is happening.

All of a sudden, the renaming committee is hurrying the decision making, after indicating (in the minutes of 3.12.20) that they will take Covid in consideration and look into delaying the whole thing. That did not happen.

Delving further (and I delve, I delve...), what is the plan for those £300 good will gesture? Is it for renters or homeowners? As will non-resident landlords owning property on the street but renting it receive that money (it will be £190 to change the deeds for starters, and whatever their management agencies charge to redo all renting contracts) – or will their renters get that money? For funsies, I did follow up on a rental agency, who were not aware of the change of name, nor was their ‘absentee’ landlord. Now, that particular owner knows. But not the 50 or so other rental properties in the street.

The letter keeps saying everything is free when it comes to change of address, we will have a … paper from the council, and everything is OK. But I am afraid that lawyers, notaries, Business House whatever else using legal expertise will definitively NOT be free, and not covered by the £300.

True, some people will not have any particular financial output, and other than the headache of changing addresses on utilities, the £300 will absolutely cover whatever costs.

There is still no sign that the council has a clear idea of who lives where, so how will that money come along?. Rebate in council tax? For whom? What documents will we need to prove we can receive the sum? Proof of address? I jest, as well as delving.

So it needs to move to a means tested system – and put in place BEFORE the street changes its name.

The council has, all along, made sure that the structure of a vote is kept within the same small committee. Our wards councillors were not invited to participate to some of the meetings and cannot vote. The opinion of the residents was only asked at the last minute (and after a lot of outcries!) but our agreement is not needed to go ahead with the decision. Every time we raised a fuss, the council came back with some improvements and only offered some sort of solutions when we pointed out actual problems. We managed to get promises of good will gesture, a potential dedicated employee of the council whose job would be to assist us (I guess his/her salary  needs to be added to the budget total), and a gesture sum of £300 (see above) decided on no-one knows criteria.

Come and talk to the residents, not just the annoying woman, get to know us and our individual needs, let’s make it safe and fair if it happens. Let’s ask the residents to chose the name – Chestnut seems a good contender, since Mr la Rose’s keepers of his legacy have forbidden to use his name. Let’s do it after the summer when most of us will have received the vaccine and can get back to a less stressful daily lives, not on furlough, able to visit solicitors offices and have a chat. And be prepared and re-assured that the Council is fully committed to re-imburse and help us navigate the legalities that will be involved.

Let’s do it correctly.

Again, a few of my sticking points. They are all facts.

- no name flyers pushed through doors, not reaching everyone

- consultation starting with the choice of 2 names, but not if we'd agree to it in the first place

- early documentation in English only

- no provision made for elderly people/people without internet

- no acknowledgment or answer to large petition 'against'

- Street Assessment relying on extrapolated data from the ward, St Ann's, not the street itself

- No answer slip for the free post envelope added to 'include' people without internet access (attaching a pic of what came in the envelope)

- Disappearance of some street signs before the date of the 'Final decision of the committee', after 19.2.21

- While the Padmore Institute publicly published a letter forbidding the use of Mr la Rose's name in renaming the street, we have not seen any document from another of Mr La Rose's family by-passing this agreeing to the use of name

- Huge risks for asylum seekers to be dropped off the map, legal fees for each residents (deeds, probate etc...)

- All done during Covid, which means that we cannot meet with the council/amongst each other - also risk of confusion if the address changes for GP records and elderly vaccination for instance

- One that just occurred to me – I work with vulnerable people,  minorities and children – I have to have a DBS check – what if the next time I renew it, the records don’t match (it’s all done automatically) and it is rejected? There goes my job, I guess? There are millions of little things like that the 350 or so residents will face – they are just hard to imagine/predict/project until we’re in real trouble.

 

I am not litigious, I am not unreasonable and until now, I have never fought anything in my quiet small life. Last time I was on HoL, I was looking for a kitten! (got one from RSPCA Enfield, thank you – he’s magnificent. Zidane.). I actually am very proud to live here and largely support the general actions of the council.

But, yeah, this one, this one really annoyed me. We are not a street of bigots and racists and we are real people that are going to get in real trouble because there was no serious research in the consequences that such a new situation like this, with few precedents, done on our behalf. It’s a lovely great mediatic coup, relying on liberal guilt not to make a fuss, and it’s just unfair.

I need to put somewhere, on record, that I have seen the council trying to fix the issues once we managed to make them realise real people live here and we are about to be engulfed in an admin and legal nightmare – it should have been done before, in a real first consultation stage, before our ‘choice of 2 names’, and by them, not relying on us trying to think of all the impossible situations we’ll be facing, because, again, it is hard to project until we’re there.

Instead of listening and pausing to really look into all the issues, the process not only carried on as if nothing was said, it has been sped up.

I have accessed the freedom of information act and requested all the documentation on the matter so far, so there is a public trace of the process,and maybe a lesson for future councils to do it properly and get everyone onboard. Maybe we can hope that Black Boy Lane will indeed be a lesson in people’d rights, inclusivity, fairness and democraty.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/all_documentation_produced_r...

Before I go, I hope we’ll all have the chance for a last say –

Saturday 23 January 2021, 11.30am

Join our virtual online engagement event for Black Boy Lane residents. Due to social distancing requirements, a 'virtual' online engagement meeting will be held at 11.30am on Saturday 23 January 2021 via Microsoft Teams (external link).

This will allow residents and organisations to ask council officers any questions. Those who would like to join the meeting should email bblconsultation@haringey.gov.uk to register to take part.

I hope to see a few of you there. For the principle. Til the end, comrades. One good thing coming out of it is that I hope the approach will be better for the residents of Rhodes Avenue – again, not named after bad guy Cecil, but his great uncle Thomas - they’re coming for you!

And just to remind us all of that particular episode, I am re-attaching the text of the Padmore Institute forbidding the council to use Mr la Rose’s name. I obviously didn’t know the guy, but I like what he would have said on the subject, and it is a pretty name for a street. A bit French, like me.

Before sign out, I was thinking of the power of words, the one the council is so fond of: rose, in French, is pink – it is how one describes Caucasian skin (rosy cheeks) – so going from Black Boy to a descriptor for white people’s skin colour is an irony that leaves me quietly chuckling – Excellent progress in fighting racism, here. Top marks.

Anyway, my fingers are bleeding, and so will your eyeballs by now - I want to say thank you for all the support from you all on the thread – I didn’t agree to everything, but I respected every opinion, and I have learned a lot. Now, without further ado, once more, the fantastic letter from the Padmore Institute (sent to the whole of the council). Do support them if you can, they are fantastic.

 Dear Cllr Ejiofor 

 

The George Padmore Institute has been aware for a few weeks now that there is a Haringey Council consultation currently taking place over the renaming of Black Boy Lane, London N17, and that the two names the residents have been asked to select from are Jocelyn Barrow Lane and La Rose Lane. Sarah White, who is the Secretary of the George Padmore Institute Board of Trustees, and the partner of the late John La Rose, has kept the Trustees informed of her correspondence with you on the matter, of various online discussion forums that she has been made aware of and of other public comments and information. 

John La Rose was the founding Chairman of the George Padmore Institute and the renaming proposal was discussed at our recent AGM and Trustees Meeting, held on 25 October 2020. We wish to inform you and the Haringey councillors that the Trustees do not support the renaming proposal in its present form and would not support the use of John La Rose‘s name in the current proposal.  

Our main reasons are the following: 

  1. We feel the renaming proposal, in the way it has been conceived and is being carried out, is not one which John himself would have supported, nor is it in tune with his vision of the importance of people having access to and knowledge of all their history so that they can then make their own independent judgements.  
  2. It is clear that the renaming proposal was not serious because (a) John La Rose’s’ closest family and friends were not consulted in advance, and (b) the biographical note presented to residents about who John La Rose was, and why he should be honoured in this way, was flimsy, shoddy and tokenistic. 
  3. We also understand that there is a considerable cost in changing the name of a road and we feel that, at a time like this, when there are so many other more urgent calls on the Council’s finances, it is inappropriate to be spending money in this way. 
  4. The name change will be a bureaucratic inconvenience to residents of Black Boy Lane. 
  5. There has been a lack of communication, openness and clear justification for such a change in the Council literature on the renaming process. 
  6. If you, or any other (Haringey) councillors are interested in learning about the range and depth of John La Rose’s life achievements, the George Padmore Institute would be very happy to assist you. The entry on ‘La Rose, John Anthony’ in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography might be a useful place for you to make a start. 

Yours 

Roxy Harris 

Chairperson of the George Padmore Institute (on behalf of the trustees)" 

 

 

George Padmore Institute 

76 Stroud Green Road 
Finsbury Park 
London 
N4 3EN 

020 7272 8915 

www.georgepadmoreinstitute.org 

 

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Hi Anna. Two cups of tea, a packet of biscuits and 2 King Size Mars Bars later!  Very well put.  I'm sure you won't mind me adding some of your points that I hadn't thought of to my email to the Consultation Committee.  Rachael

Absolutely! Those are just not my ideas, they’re a collection of all the bits and bobs I gathered from everyone from the street anyway! Our limited version of a proper consultation... Just leave my typos out! Good luck!

Echoing many of the thoughts and concerns further up this thread, the Council has also embarked on a seemingly sham consultation to rename Albert Road Recreational Ground. It seems that the decision to rename the ground has been taken already. 

I do wish that the Council would show this level of pro activity, and apply the same level of effort and public funds, to matters which might actually make a difference to its residents - such as helping those on the breadline or even improving infrastructure.  

But then I suppose we’re all to blame for electing Councillors who are not up to the job of holding the Council to account. 

William it puzzles me when anyone talks about "the Council". Perhaps as if it was the bureaucracy which made the decisions.
Plainly, various fairy stories are told about local government. About leaders, cabinets, mayors and all the other public and ceremonial stuff which can substantially obscure who holds effective power and calls the shots. 

The Council is made up of bureaucrats who implement policy decisions. Pressure ought to be placed on those making policy decisions to ensure that they represent the people. That ought to happen via the Councillors and the local election process. In this area, the system doesn’t work well as there is little accountability between the Councillors and their electorate (which is a problem we, the electorate, have created and allow to persist)!

That William, is indeed the theory of how it ought to work. You may also be right that maybe that's how it does operate - broadly speaking - in many other elected Councils across the UK. I wouldn't know. But we do know from Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column that that's not always the case.
The fact that Haringey is regularly in Rotten Boroughs doesn't mean there aren't councillors trying to tackle these problems. 
On your last point, I very much agree residents as citizens have a vital role in challenging the system. Many people try. If you know for example the Alexandra Palace & Firoka case you'll have seen such challenges succeed.
On the other hand, personally I wouldn't want to blame electors or residents for "creating" the system we actually have.  Especially when it's malfunctioning as badly as Haringey is currently.

To be pedantic....

The Council is made up of elected councillors who are in charge of

- implementing nationally defined responsibilities, and

- making policy decisons within the existing budgetary and legislative constraints.

These are implemented  by the staff of the council i.e trained professionals - technical, specialists, clerical and manual, etc.

Yes, the staff are in what can be called a bureaucracy but their job isn't easy given that they can be subjected to the changing whims of politicians and have been over the last years subjected to imposed, large scale, drastic central governent cost cuttting done without consideration for the real effects of these cuts on the ground.

We vote for both the coucnillors and the MPs who make the policy decisons so ultimartely we do have some influence.

I agree that people's complacency allows the councillors to get away with incompetence, ineptitude and in some instances plain old skulduggery. Such is the democracy that we have.

We Londoners (not me actaully) voted TWICE for an untrustworthy scoundrel to become our mayor and taht person now leads the country and has reached his plateau of (in)competence. People still preferreed to vote for him. In the US 74 million people voted for a Tramp to lead them into the water à la Pipied Piper!

JJB - Pedantry is fine in the right place.

Councillors as a body are not "in charge" of anything very much. I was a councillor for sixteen years (1998-2014).  Working with a few others, I was able to stop some stupid and - in my personal view some highly dubious - proposals going ahead.

That now appears far harder since we currently have a "strong leader" and cabinet system imposed on councils. If and when things go wrong all the necessary checks and balances are seriously weaker. Meanwhile the "strong leader" controls patronage and the publicity tools. From that point of view you are right to mention Trump.

Which is why I mentioned Ece Temelkuran and her book "How to Lose a Country" about the "pattern" - of the rise of authoritarian leaders with their friends and family regimes.

To be fair, I don’t think budget cuts have anything to do with the matter at hand. The renaming of streets and areas of grass result in costs being incurred (and would seem to be in opposition to the policy trends set out by the current government). 

I agree that budget cuts from central government have been unwelcome and have impacted some of the poorest communities very hard. But, in spite of that, Haringey Council (and the elected Councillors) have taken it upon themselves to spend what little money they do have on virtue signalling projects. I’m sure the poorest hit will be eternally grateful. 

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