Watford’s Mayor has said there are no plans to change street names “at the moment” as a new street naming policy was adopted in the town.

The new policy, which has not ruled out renaming streets, was among several recommendations that were presented to councillors by a task group during a virtual Cabinet meeting at Watford Borough Council last night (March 1).

The task group was set-up by the council after the emergence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and to respond to the "disproportionate" impact Covid-19 has had on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

It presented its final report at last night’s council meeting, where councillors discussed and agreed on nine recommendations that were put forward.

Among the group's recommendations was adopting a new street naming policy for Watford, which includes setting out the process for reviewing existing street names.

Read more - Council set to debate proposals that have not ruled out changing street names

Last summer Labour councillor Asif Khan, who sat on the task group, put forward a motion to change several street names which he believed "are named after people who were involved in the slave trade, colonisation and oppression".

Street names listed in the motion, which was passed by councillors at the time, included Imperial Way, Colonial Way, Clive Way and Rhodes Way.

As part of the proposed street naming policy, residents and businesses in affected roads would be consulted should street renaming be taken forward.

The policy recommended by the task group also looks at naming new streets and buildings to “reflect the rich diversity of the town”.

It was also recommended that the council should commission Watford Museum to develop an education programme based around a new exhibition exploring the background and history of the town’s road names.

During last night’s meeting, Mayor Peter Taylor noted that the recommendations were “very much looking at future names and how we make sure that they reflect the diversity of the town”, adding that education would be "central in all of this".

Watford Observer: Mayor Peter TaylorMayor Peter Taylor

But speaking about potentially changing existing street names in the future, Mr Taylor said: “There are no plans to change any street names in Watford at the moment.

“I think any policy that we do draw up will of course make sure that the voice of local residents and businesses, particularly those who live in an individual street, will be central to that.”

After the street name recommendations were passed, Cllr Khan, who sat on the task group, said: "I welcome the findings of the report. It's important that the young and other residents will learn the origins and historical context of street names in the town.

“In addition, I'm glad that the council will have a clear process in place; going forward all street and building names will need to ensure that Watford’s rich and cultural diversity is taken into account." 

Other recommendations made by the task group that were agreed on included agreeing a corporate definition of BAME at the council and establishing an equalities forum to include representatives of protected characteristics.

Cllr Favour Ezeifedi, who chaired the task group, said: “I brought my wealth of experience from NHS and local authority to chair this very successful resulting in members of the council adopting the recommendations.

“The recommendations from this task group represent a significant milestone in supporting our community through the pandemic and in celebrating the diversity of our town. I am very pleased for the overwhelming support it has received. We will continue to champion that the recommendations are implemented within the specified timelines to ensure the best for Watford residents.”