Watford Borough Council has been accused of "bottling" a plan to rename streets in the town that are linked to slavery.

Despite approving a policy this month to give the public a say on street names, Watford mayor Peter Taylor says there are "no plans" to change any existing ones.

Instead, the policy appears to be primarily aimed at "encouraging" people to come up with names for new streets that celebrate Watford's heritage and the contributions made by people from the town.

Labour councillor Asif Khan says he is "disappointed" the council isn't "grasping the opportunity" to look at renaming streets which may have a "negative" historic connotation.

In July 2020, he proposed a motion which noted Watford has a "rich, diverse and positive history which must be celebrated". It added the Black Lives Matter campaign "rightly focussed on the serious concerns of symbols of oppression and slavery".

Councillors unanimously passed the motion, which included - but was not limited to - resolving to rename Rhodes Way, Clive Way, Colonial Way and Imperial Way, adding it was not "tenable" to keep these names.

A cross-party taskforce was subsequently set up culminating in a new street naming policy being published in October 2021 - and officially approved by the council's Cabinet this month.

Watford Observer: Watford Labour councillor Asif KhanWatford Labour councillor Asif Khan

Cllr Khan told the Observer: "I am pleased the council has finally managed to produce a street naming policy. I look forward to new street and building names to reflect the rich cultural history of Watford.

"However, the Liberal Democrats voted for my motion which called for some roads to be renamed. They spoke positively for this at the time but it is a shame Peter Taylor has not seized the initiative here and has rather bottled it.

"I believe the street names should be changed but it depends if it is what everyone else wants because that is how democracy works."

The policy does allow for existing street names to be changed but Mr Taylor says any opportunities to will be "very rare".

He said: "Watford Council has no plans to change any street names...we are introducing safeguards so existing street names can only change if residents or businesses ask for it to be considered, it is then supported by two thirds of residents or businesses on a particular street and it’s approved by councillors.

"This would be very rare and only used in exceptional circumstances, for example if a word caused offence to many people."

Watford Observer: Watford Liberal Democrat elected mayor Peter TaylorWatford Liberal Democrat elected mayor Peter Taylor

Responding to Cllr Khan's comments - a politician he will be going up against at the May mayoral election, alongside Tory Binita Mehta-Parmar - Mr Taylor said: "The motion brought to council stated that some roads should be renamed. I was clear that a better approach was to work on a cross-party basis to agree a policy for this area and that was agreed by councillors.

"I am pleased that we have been able to implement this policy. I am not aware of any residents or businesses wanting to change their street name."