by Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager
Haringey Council has hit the headlines this week after the local council spent over £100,000 of local taxpayers money on renaming a street.
Why was this necessary? Well, the street used to be called Black Boy Lane, likely after a pub that used to exist nearby. That pub was probably named after King Charles II, who had black hair and brown eyes.
This name remained as a slightly odd but harmless relic, likely largely ignored by residents and council bureaucrats. Until recently. After the death of George Floyd, public and private organisations embarked on major exercises to address issues of race and racism. Some of this was worthwhile, some of it necessary. But it also gave right-on officials a blank cheque to embark on pet projects with little relevance to ordinary people.
And, according to Haringey Council, Black Boy Lane needed to be changed in recognition of the negative impact the supposedly racist connotations have had on residents. That sounds defensible on face value. If Haringey residents were truly offended and hurt by this street name, then there would be a case for such a change.
But there’s one major problem. The council’s own consultations showed mass local opposition to the proposal. 78 percent of all respondents and 81 per cent of those who lived on the street itself were against the plan to rename the street. The council embarked on these consultations, hoping to use them to justify its plans.
The reaction of this council to the views of its residents - the people whose taxes fund their salaries - was to simply ignore their views and spend a fortune.
Unsurprisingly, residents are furious and the whole thing has descended into farce. The street’s new sign, which ludicrously includes “formerly Black Boy Lane” in brackets, has already been vandalised. It is now overshadowed by a mural reminding people of the street’s original name.
When bureaucrats ignore the facts and the views of residents, it should come as no surprise when they have no sense of value for taxpayers’ money. It’s local taxpayers who will be picking up the six figure bill.