The New Local Government Network has set out a case for recognising the achievements of local citizens by naming streets and public places after them. This would help to build community cohesion and local civic pride, whilst giving areas a unique identity. It argues that names such as Shakespeare Way and Nelson Road help to celebrate identity and remember British history, and that we should do more to celebrate contemporary British icons.
To support this approach councils should organise ‘X Factor’ style public votes to re-name public spaces after local heroes.
Mansfield is quoted as an example where a road and the local swimming pool have been named after Rebecca Adlington, the local swimmer who won two Olympic gold medals. It is suggested that Manchester should name a local park after former Manchester United hero, David Beckham and also name a road after the famous Gallagher brothers from Oasis. Edinburgh should rename its public library after local resident J.K. Rowling and Birmingham should recognise its local achievement by commemorating local figures as diverse as J.R.Tolkien to Corporal Matthew Croucher, who this year was awarded the Victoria Cross for heroic action in Afghanistan.
Commemorating local achievement would help to develop community cohesion and allow local people to take pride in their locality. Local areas need not just celebrate the achievements of famous heroes, but also commemorate the work of unsung locals such as teachers, policemen and women or local businessmen or women who have made a positive contribution to the area.
What’s in a name is available from NLGN. http://www.nlgn.org.uk