A family have complained to Dorset County Council about a ‘racially offensive’ street name after they spotted it on holiday.
They were visiting Swanage when they came across Darkie Lane, in Ulwell, which, according to the Bournemouth Echo, was originally named Dark Lane.
Councillor Peter Wharf, who is Dorset Council’s cabinet member for corporal development and change, got in contact with the family and wrote to Swanage Town Council about their concerns.
He wrote: “A family holidaying in Swanage have written to express their concern to find their accommodation on a street using a name that they found offensive and which they felt could very easily cause offence to others given our national history.
“The historic context for the name is purportedly innocent, relating to the lane being ‘dark’ and ‘shaded’ – though this does not avoid 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’.”
He then went on to suggest the council had three options; they could ‘do nothing’ and leave the name be, change it to ‘Dark Lane’ to ‘preserve the historic context, whilst minimising the potential for offence,’ or offer an ‘alternative suggestion’.
A Swanage Town Council spokesperson said: “This matter was referred to [us] following a complaint received by Dorset Council and it was discussed at the Planning and Consultation Committee Meeting held on Monday, October 4.
“At the meeting, town councillors voted in favour of recommending to Dorset Council that consideration should be given to the renaming of Darkie Lane to Dark Lane, which would preserve the historical context, whilst minimising the potential for offence.”
A Dorset Council spokesperson has confirmed that it is waiting on a formal response from Swanage Council and that they’ll also consult with residents who live on the lane.
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