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Dorset road could be renamed after holidaymakers complain it is racially offensive

Dorset road could be renamed after holidaymakers complain it is racially offensive
Local councillors are calling for the name to be changed

A street in Dorset could have its name changed after tourists complained that some people might find it racially offensive.

Dorset County Council said it was contacted by a concerned family holidaying at a property on Darkie Lane in Ulwell, Swanage.

The family felt the name could be offensive to some given the UK’s colonial history.

Officials referred the matter to Swanage Town Council who discussed it at a meeting on 4 October.

Swanage councillors voted in favour of recommending to Dorset Council that it should consider changing the street name from Darkie Lane to Dark Lane.

The lane appears on Google Maps and GPS systems as Darkie Lane. But historical records show it was called Dark Lane before the 1930s.

It appears to have been given the name Dark Lane because it is partially shaded by trees.

Following the recommendation from Swanage, Dorset Council is now considering a range of options on what to do about the name.

These include doing nothing – leaving Darkie Lane as the official name and changing the name to Dark Lane to preserve the historic context, “whilst minimising the potential for offence.”

Some have branded the process as “political correctness” gone mad.

Mike Whitwam, a Swange councillor who voted against the recommendation, told the Daily Echo: “I have many close black friends and the name is not in the slightest bit prejudicial.

“I felt the decision was made purely to satisfy political correctness, which is destroying culture in this country.”

He added “It has been called Darkie Lane for many years and nobody has taken offence except this one do-gooder who has complained to the council”.

It is unclear why or how Dark Lane was changed to Darkie Lane in the 1930s.

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 said: “We can confirm that Dorset Council received a complaint over the summer from a holiday maker about the name of Darkie Lane in Swanage, which they found offensive.

“In response, we looked into the historical records of the naming of this road (which was originally called Dark Lane due to its shaded location) and asked Swanage Town councillors for their views.”

The spokesperson added: “This issue was discussed and we are awaiting a formal response from Swanage following their discussion. We will also consult with the residents living on this road to seek their views on the road naming prior to a final decision being made.”

Dorset County Council is deciding whether to rename a road named Darkie Lane after receiving a complaint from a holidaymaker that it could be considered racially offensive.

“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.

“Whilst the policy does not account for the circumstances of this specific case, the underlying principles regarding the naming of streets are that they be inclusive given the diversity of our communities and visitor populations.”

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 said: “We can confirm that Dorset Council received a complaint over the summer from a holiday maker about the name of Darkie Lane in Swanage, which they found offensive.

“In response, we looked into the historical records of the naming of this road (which was originally called Dark Lane due to its shaded location) and asked Swanage Town councillors for their views.

“This issue was discussed and we are awaiting a formal response from Swanage following their discussion.

“We will also consult with the residents living on this road to seek their views on the road naming prior to a final decision being made.”