Holidaying Family Claim Street Name Is Racially Offensive
A family of holidaymakers have issued a complaint to Dorset County Council after coming across a ‘offensive’ road name.
The family, who were visiting Swanage, complained to the council after spotting the sign in Ulwell, close to Ulwell Holiday Park.
As reported by the Bournemouth Echo, historical records show that the road in question, Darkie Lane, was originally called Dark Lane, and it is not clear exactly why the name changed at some point after the 1930s.
After having liaised with the family in question, Councillor Peter Wharf, Dorset Council’s cabinet member for corporate development and change, wrote to Swanage Town Council about their concerns.
Wharf explained that although the ‘historic context for the name is purportedly innocent, relating to the lane being ‘dark’ and ‘shaded’ there is still the potential for ‘causing offence, particularly for visitors to the area who will likely be unaware of this context’.
Dorset Council’s Street Naming and Numbering Policy is clear that when naming new developments/streets it will not be acceptable to use a name that ‘could cause offence or be considered discriminatory particularly in regard to age, disability, race and ethnicity, faith and belief, sexual orientation, gender and sex’.
Whilst the policy does not account for the circumstances of this specific case, the underlying principles regarding the naming of streets are that they be inclusive given the diversity of our communities and visitor populations.
The councillor went on to state that the council had three options going forward. It could simply ‘do nothing’ and leave the name be, change it to ‘Dark Lane’ as a way to ‘preserve the historic context, whilst minimising the potential for offence’, or offer an ‘alternative suggestion’.
A Swanage Town Council spokesperson told the Bournemouth Echo that the matter had been discussed during the Planning and Consultation Committee Meeting on Monday, October 4.
Councillors ultimately voted in favour of ‘recommending to Dorset Council that consideration should be given to the renaming of Darkie Lane to Dark Lane’. However, not everyone has been keen on the idea.
Mike Whitwam, the only councillor who opposed the renaming decision, declared that it wasn’t the ‘slightest bit prejudicial’, claiming that ‘the decision was made purely to satisfy political correctness’.
A Dorset Council spokesperson has confirmed that it is waiting on a formal response from Swanage following their recent meeting, and will also be consulting with residents living on the road in question.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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