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:
- Online: www.haringey.gov.uk/renaming-black-boy-lane.
- Telephone: 020 8489 3797
- By post: Consultation Co-ordinator, The Communications Team, River Park House, 225 High Road, Wood Green, London, N22 8HQ
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.
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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Changing the name of a recreation ground where nobody lives is one thing, changing the name of a street with 200 households on it to the name of a man who's family object to it, is another. Surely.
Yes, I agree that they are different, and that the impact of changing the name of Black Boy Lane would certainly inconvenience far more people (namely, the people who live on the Lane) than Albert Road Rec. That is taken into account within the criteria I mention above.
However, just because people don’t ‘live’ on Albert Road Rec, that doesn’t in itself justify changing its name. Worth noting that 49% of respondents in the Council’s own (procedurally flawed) survey were opposed to changing the name of Albert Road Rec, and the renaming will result in public funds being spent on signage, as opposed to front line services.
Whether one cares or not about the ability of the Council to change the names of roads and places on a whim, we really should all care if the Council is wasting public money to do so. There is a significant amount of poverty within the borough - by way of example, I’ve recently seen campaigns to raise money to provide laptops to school children who otherwise can’t access schooling remotely. Spending public funds on changing signs (and compensating residents) seems to me like a huge waste.
Thank you Mr McNamara for your efforts to prevent this ill conceived and unwanted change.
Have you received any responses from other councillors? Is it likely Mr Ejiofor will change his position?
I haven’t received any response from any councillor, including anyone in Cabinet. I hate to generalise but it’s sadly not unusual in my experience for our local council representatives in Haringey to not respond at all to members of the public when they write to them with concerns or observations. On saying that, there is a culture of recriminations from above at Haringey Council whereby councillors who do speak up or disagree with their group leader can end up being punished or threatened with it.
Thanks Stuart. Let's hope things do change. Fingers crossed.
The lesson here is, join the Labour Party. Get a voice.
Or vote them out.
Yes, by all means everyone should use their vote.
However a basic problem is that in many wards the main decisions are made by a "selectorate" of Party members who meet to shortlist and then to select candidates. Which means that where wards are broadly "safe" for one or other party, the important meetings precede the public votes.
In one way this is more open and democratic than in the past as the membership numbers increased and it becomes harder to cheat. But currently there is a battle inside the Labour Party to try to control the wards and then selections. John McMullan's past efforts to clean-up such processes in one ward are recorded on HoL.
This was my last email, sent to absolutely everyone I could think of last week. For some reason, I can't add attachments right now - like the map sent to us residents highlighting the wrong street and a screenshot of the email only written on emotional language, a 'Think of the children' exercise, begging people to vote for the change of name email are pretty shocking. (will just quickly add that providing food and laptops to our BAME kids in difficulty would have been, in my mind, a much better way to 'think' about them). A stark contrast to the measured and well articulated prose of Mr Mcnamara. I didn't get much answer from the council. Here goes:
The consultation about renaming Black Boy Lane is coming to a close. I was invited to take part in the second (and last) ‘online meeting with the residents’ of 23.1.21. After examination of the minutes (attached) and documentation so far, with more information coming in, I want to sum up the irremediable faults and more than questionable ethics of the whole thing so far:
1. Latest consultation process online - open to fraud /breach of ethics
Online snap survey – Anyone is able to enter the Black Boy Lane postcode and answer. Not only that, Snap Survey allows multiple entries by the same person. As there are no correct street assessment, and a list of who lives on the street by name, it is already not the most precise data collection. That said I trusted that only Black Boy Lane residents will have their say.
But now, one of the leader’s closest allies sent a notification to 2500 Labour members, urging them to participate in the survey. A neighbour forwarded it to me. The email is titled: ‘Help change the name of Black Boy Lane’. The text wording is one-sided, steeped in emotional language and does not highlight the cost to the council and residents, the facts. It asks unequivocally for votes. This is bringing other people that have no stake in this to weigh in the debate. They, unlike the residents, have nothing to lose. They will be able to participate using a 'fake' Black Boy Lane addresses, multiple times.
How transparent, unethical and unfair! Screenshot of the text attached. This is an irrevocable breach of ethics, and will warrant further scrutiny. I vote Labour and I cannot believe its members would want the party dragged into another thing like this.
If we can prove even one of those votes is fraudulent (easily enough by knocking on a door and asking the actual person living here) - where does that leave the legitimacy of the consultation?
Residents, when contacted directly, have all, always opposed the notion as currently proposed. A signed petition has been sent. No one wants this. Not because they are racists or bigots, just because it will have a huge impact on every aspect of their already disturbed day to day lives. Now we have an email sent to more than 2500 people who have no stake in our street, urging them to vote for the change.
Street assessment and wrong map
The one we have been given after asking for it multiple times is based on old data cobbled from St Ann’s ward/general Haringey percentages/10 year old census and the 35 people who answered the first ‘consultation’ which was the choice between 2 names pre-determined. It is not valid. It is not representative of the current Black Boy Lane residents.
One last thing, the map provided on the residents consultation letter of 15.1.21 highlights Black Boy Lane. And West Green rd. Even the map provided by the council disregards who physically is on Black Boy lane. Picture attached.
The data collecting fields offered online have not been offered to the many residents that have no access to technology, it should have been listed on an answer slip in the last correspondence. The elderly have no way to get their objection heard. The letter is only in English with links to the website for translations - a lot of my neighbours do not speak English, are precisely the ones with no access to the internet and those who are in a situation where they can be intimidated by anything like this. They will not have easy access to the documents in their languages. Those are the most vulnerable of us, in real danger of eviction and deportation.
2. AGM/May election
Annoyingly, everytime I bring it up, I am told there are no elections in May (see the minutes). But there is an internal party election and AGM in May 2021. There will be a new leader properly elected. Are we sure the new council Leader elect will go ahead with the promises of £300 per 200+ households – what are the guarantees of the help on ‘legal matters’? On top of spending that budget, is the Haringey council ready to take on the amount of work and grief resulting from this? Will it be also offered to West Green road residents, as their street is also highlighted on the council map?
A number of direct official complaints have been opened against the current leader on his conduct during the whole process.
MPs and governmental officials of all political parties, have now been informed of the email to Labour members mentioned above, and the breach of ethics it represents.
The few councillors who dared to speak openly against the motions have now been put on the naughty step. A resident of Black Boy lane was shouted at by the leader during a meeting. What is happening here?
As you know, a few of the residents have now been approached by various media outlets, and questions have been raised on a national level. As per one journalist request, I have opened access to freedom of information acts that will ask of the council to make public everything related to the decision making, the consultation process, internal memo and emails, actual budget costs, justifications of said costs in the actual climate of nose-diving economy, increasing hardship on Haringey and Black Boy Lane residents. I have been informed by the council that the documents will be posted on respectively the 17th and 24th of February.
Residents are still really angry that the Leader, for once in our street, did not try to meet any of us, and was only there just for the BBC cameras. A chat on a doorstep would have been Covid safe, surely. Absolutely perfect illustration of pushing the change of name while discarding the people that will be affected by it.
Despite requesting this many times, we still have not been provided with concrete examples of costs/consequences to residents of other recently ‘renamed’ streets, or a detailing of exactly what hurdles/problems they faced and how their councils approached them.
In the minutes, this has been 'covered' by 'it happened', and ‘4 residents were slightly inconvenienced’. We had to point out every cost, every real life inconvenience we'll have to pay for, to get offers of gestures of goodwill. The 31 or so households you correctly identified are from the petitions we sent this summer.
Timely enough, Abbot Greene has decided to rename its 4 Black Boy Pubs. We all understand this. But those are PUBS, people do not live in pubs - the main costs will be new pubs signs, new beer mats and stationery. And the costs will all be taken in charge by Abbots Greene.
This is not about our Amazon packages being lost. It is all the legal documents we'd need to actualise while having to hire notaries/lawyers etc, loss of customers for businesses registered here, risks of databases not synching at every level - HMRC, Home Office etc... Risks of eviction and worse. Our street signs are missing, the council map doesn't highlight our street properly. there is no current list of residents/renters/homeowners/businesses registered here. There is a change of leadership coming up. How can we trust any promises that everything will be fine and taken care of?
6. Street signs taken off
Our Black Boy Lane signs have been taken away since at least November 20. I don’t care to speculate who decided to take them away in the first place, but it is something that should have been dealt with. It has been 4 months now. When brought up during the last meeting, we were told that those have been ordered on January 4th but that we have to understand the delays, due to the pandemic.
There is already one report of someone not finding the street. I am sure there will be more. This is happening with a few street signs missing. What will happen when the street just changes its name?
7. Use of la Rose Name forbidden by the George Padmore Institute
The leader has promised to produce documentation proving full support from the Padmore Institute, Mr la rose’s Foundation – and his family. We are told that no less than six letters will be produced last minute. I have no doubt that something will be produced but the wait hints at some sort of negotiation, to get that full, undivided support. Should it need negotiations at all? Will the cost of those negotiations be added to the budget put aside to rename the street?
At the moment, the only published communication is a pretty scathing refusal of using Mr la Rose’s name in such a blatantly transparent way, a misuse of budget priority, at such a high cost to the people of the street and Haringey, during the worst crisis of the last 50 years. It was published in the padmore Institute newsletter and sent to all of you - see document attached.
Covid is going to cost £70 million to Haringey.
A new variant has been reported in N17.
Covid is used as an excuse by the council as why they cannot meet with us in person, why they can not get a correct list of who lives on the street, and blames the virus for delays in re-installing our street signs.
However, every time the residents have asked for the project to be paused, as we are all destabilised in one way or another by the Pandemic, our requests are denied. The Council has scheduled the whole thing to be completed during the pandemic, when they believed we wouldn't have the energy or means to notice and try to stop it.
Black Boy Lane residents have lost loved ones. They have lost their jobs. They are getting sick. Their benefits are being cut.
Based on the ever changing budget figures provided by the council, the renaming will mean spending at least £76,000 on ONE street. (final budget has been asked the freedom of Information request, available on the 17th of February.)
The renaming of the street will be causing its 400+ residents untold administrative nightmares and unforeseen costs in the next year, with no guarantee of help from the by then new Council leader, and a year that will still be heavily dealing with the presence and effects of COVID-19.
Haringey has so much more real issues to be addressed - real people in need of food, shelter, social service protection. What improvements will they gain from renaming a street they don't live on?
Using that amount of money to inconvenience the residents of Black Boy Lane AND take away vital help from your most deprived constituents.
We are a very diverse street, I would say more than 60% of us come from different countries, all ethnicities, religions and creeds mixing along peacefully. And no one, not one resident here, BAME/Caucasian/white British/other has a problem with the name of their OWN street. Indeed, the main sentiment is that Black Boys are pretty great, and we should all strive to honour them, not transforming them into a symbol of shame. There are also a lot of questions about why promoting one minority over the 20 or so prevalent in Haringey, completely negating the idea of 'inclusivity' this whole idea is based on.
Dear councillors, whatever your opinion of Black Boy Lane is, do hope that common sense and fairness will prevail on the matter. The residents do understand the name is perceived as controversial and the general feeling is not hostile to changing it, but it has to be done properly, getting the residents onboard, with all the safeguards in place, a neutral name all residents agree on. Every councillor of Haringey should be able to vote on this, not a small selected committee, because the budget spent on this will affect all of your own residents. And if we are doing this again, let's not schedule it during a pandemic.
A great read: thanks Anna. Let's keep an open mind and wait for the final result. Goodness, this has been an exhausting 8 months!
How local is local?
John La Rose was a figure in the west of the borough, not the east. Although his works cover the spectrum, he is not Bernie Grant and had little direct involvement in South Tottenham or West Green.