A council has set-up a new task group to review changing street names that reflect “negative history” in Watford.

The move is the next step for Watford Borough Council to look at changing street names in the town such as Imperial Way, with the newly formed group set to review “issues of importance to Watford’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community”.

The group was set-up during last night’s (September 24) virtual overview and scrutiny committee, where it was deemed that the naming of certain streets in Watford is a “key issue”.

This comes after Labour councillor Asif Khan put forward a motion to change several street names at a full council meeting in July – the motion called for roads to be renamed that "are named after people who were involved in the slave trade, colonisation and oppression".

The Leggatts ward councillor said in the motion that street names, buildings, statues and monuments should "reflect our town and that they do not contain any of the negative history which this town abhors".

Street names listed for review include Imperial Way, Colonial Way, Clive Way and Rhodes Way.

Watford Observer:

The motion was passed at the full council meeting and now the newly formed scrutiny task group will review these street names as well as “other issues that matter to members of our BAME communities”.

The group will present a final report and recommendations to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee on February 4, 2021.

During last night’s meeting, councillors voted in favour of Cllr Khan’s participation in the group, as well as Cllr’s Dawn Allen Williamson, Peter Jeffree, Favour Ezeifedi and Jenny Pattinson.

But when voting on who would chair the group, an equal number of votes were cast for Cllr’s Ezeifedi and Pattinson.

Lib Dem councillor Maggie Parker, who chaired the meeting, cast the deciding vote, which she put towards Labour’s Cllr Ezeifeidi.

Watford Observer:

Cllr Pattinson (left) and Cllr Ezeifedi (right)

Back in July, Mayor Peter Taylor said that it is “right to have a group that goes away and looks at this (reviewing street names) in detail”.

He said: "If it is done badly we know that these kinds of issues can be highly divisive and I think at the moment the last thing we need is a debate that leads to angry voices on all sides.

"But having said that I completely recognise the need to look at it.

“We won’t just be looking at existing street names but we will also be talking about a policy for future street names which I think will be a really helpful thing to do."

However, Hornets legend Luther Blissett told the BBC that he “objects to” roads such as Imperial Way and Colonial Way being renamed in the town.

While Blissett said it would be "rather nice" to have a road named after him, he said that it is “important that there is a real understanding” of where the current street names have come from.

He told the BBC: “The important thing is what we now, in this present time, can do about education so that people understand [their] past and understand hopefully what we can do moving forward."