The Name of the Roads
I am pleased to chair the National Road
Names Appeals Panel. I was first introduced to some of the issues
many years ago when my wife and I purchased a bungalow in Spring
Lane. I had vaguely associated the name with the freshness of
rebirth in spring, and it was not until I watched American
television programmes on Tornado Alley and Death Row
that something more sinister began to dawn. This was confirmed in
the very wet winter of 1987 when the springs over which the
properties had been constructed led to hundreds of thousands of
pounds in subsidence damage.
My encounter with the subtleties of road
naming may have ended there had it not been for the EU ruling
that road names should be categorised as consumer labelling
and as such must ...express some substantial characteristic
about their locality. Furthermore, to ensure impartiality,
names had to be ...chosen by an independent panel.
Initially, this led to an interesting
diversity of new namings: Reactor View; Flood Plain Crescent;
Runway Mews; Building Regs - What Building Regs? Terrace
and so forth. The trouble began when the builders who had
constructed Desirable, detached, four-bedroomed, neo-tudor
residences in Toxic Chemical Waste Dump Gardens
found they were unable to sell their houses. I was asked to chair
an appeals panel.
This provided an opportunity to define the
principles by which namings should be made. The rejection of That
Bastard At Number 25 Ran Off With My Wife Crescent
established the principle the road namings should be an enduring
characteristic of the locality, as a road could not be
renamed simply because a resident had moved. The same principle
applied to the rejection of Death Stalker Square, as the
officers at the station in Sod Criminals, Harass Motorists
Lane could, one day, have got lucky. By contrast, the
engineering impossibility of managing the water table did lead to
acceptance of Raw Sewage Backup Drive.
The system was working relatively well
until house names were incorporated within the EU directive. This
has caused significant pressure on the Naming Panel in ensuring
that house names ...express some significant characteristic
about the property or occupants.
To quote one example, there remain 122,433 Dunromins
where there has been no investigation as to whether the occupants
had ...for a significant past period been travelling from
place to place and had now ...substantially ceased
such activity. These properties, as so many others, remain
with tarpaulins over their name plaques.
There have, of course, been winners in the
current chaos. Garden centre profits have risen as residents of The
Willows required a second sapling or owners of Meadow View
purchased several tons of grass seed. The decision of the owners
of The Firs to nail two cat pelts to their front door
remains controversial as it is, perhaps, neither in the spirit of
this legislation, nor the governments programme to promote
There will undoubtedly be questions from
the floor of The House Of Self-serving Hypocrites.