"Legitimate, democratic process" needed for changing street names, argues Councillor

19 July 2020, 15:25

Caller explains why a discussion is needed on our street names

By Seán Hickey

This councillor said that he didn't see an issue with street names being changed if the residents of an area consent.

Jeet phoned Matt Stadlen during a discussion on Watford council's decision to change the names of streets reflecting on "negative history" such as Imperial Way and Colonial Way. Jeet is a councillor in Croydon and told Matt what he has planned.

He began by stating that in his area there are controversial street names such as Elgin Hadlock and Clyde who were part of the East India Company. Jeet said that he's "set a meeting for a few weeks time" with residents and historians to talk about the names.

"Rather than people feeling the need to take the law into their own hands" they can "learn all the facts, good and bad, and then have a discussion about how we feel about...the public realm, statues, street names."

Jeet told Matt that as a Sikh, he has often wondered "was there a boy trained where I now live that fought against my forefathers" in India, and explained that he could understand people's views that decorating streets with the names of imperialists can offend.

An installation on Dundas Street in Edinburgh
An installation on Dundas Street in Edinburgh. Picture: PA

Matt pushed the councillor, asking if he would be "prepared to live in Imperial Way" in Watford or would he be offended by the name. Jeet told him that he wouldn't be upset by the name, but he can understand why someone might be.

He argued that we now cannot change the tide of discussion on the subject, and "now that this debate is happening, let's do it in a lawful, legitimate way" such as what he is conducting in his own council.

"As long as you go through a process that is legitimate, democratic and you bring people together, then it's ok to change things" said Jeet.