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Southwark residents to name public buildings and places after local heroes

21 March 2022

Today, on the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Southwark Council has launched a new name bank to help increase diversity in the names of local streets, parks and buildings.

Local people and groups are being asked to suggest names of local heroes and role models, particularly people from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities, for new roads, buildings and estates in the borough.

The new approach to naming public buildings and spaces is part of the Southwark Stands Together programme, launched in response to the murder of George Floyd to address racism, inequality and injustice in the borough. It is part of a wider Southwark Stands Together programme, which includes opportunities to reshape some of the borough’s physical environment, a review of public realm policies, and creating a framework to ensure the architectural practices that Southwark uses are more diverse and inclusive.

The name bank initiative asks residents to suggest names celebrating role models and heroes that represent Southwark’s diverse Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities, and other under-represented groups including women, LGBTQI+ people and disabled people.

Suggestions kept in the bank will be used when public buildings or spaces are named, or re-named, in the future. The council’s aim is to respond positively to the strong feelings expressed by local people, to ensure that our borough truly reflects its rich history and figures from all backgrounds, genders and ethnicities.

Councillor Alice Macdonald, Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Equalities, Neighbourhoods and Leisure said: “By launching our name bank, we want to bring to life Southwark’s deep and rich history in a way that embraces diversity and inclusivity. Southwark is home to people from all over the world and we want them to tell us about the role models they feel should be celebrated by having something named after them.

“We hope this new approach will help set a new standard, not just in Southwark, but across the country. We will especially welcome suggestions that celebrate the lives and contributions of role models from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, women and other under-represented groups.”

Suggestions to be kept in the name bank and used to name Southwark’s buildings and spaces in the future can be made online. The webpage also includes guidance on what people should consider or research before making their suggestion. All names will be subject to local engagement before being agreed, and must also be approved by the Fire Brigade and Post Office to meet safety and operational requirements.

Southwark’s guidance on suggesting names for public buildings and spaces includes:

  • the person nominated should no longer be alive and must have a connection to Southwark (or at least South East London)
  • nominations should reflect the positive impact that the person made to the borough, especially role models from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, women and other under-represented groups
  • Southwark will also consider names celebrating historic events, places or other characteristics of an area

Southwark Council has, following public consultation, recently named its new library in Walworth after Una Marson, a Jamaican feminist, activist and writer, who made a home in Southwark in the 1930s and became the first black woman to be employed by the BBC during World War Two. A new housing development on Peckham’s Copeland Road will be named after Alfred Fagon, a Black British poet, playwright and actor.

The council has also celebrated the achievements of positive Black role models by displaying a series of 30 portraits of acclaimed actors, including Idris Elba, Kwame Kwei-Armah and David Oyelowo. Franklyn Rodgers’ portraits lined Peckham Hill Street for almost ten years and were treasured by the local community which affectionately renamed them the ‘Peckham Portraits’.  The portraits can currently be seen at Peckhamplex and the Mountview drama school.

Page last updated: 23 March 2022

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