West London's Ealing Council has confirmed plans to launch a statutory consultation to rename Havelock Road in the predominantly Global Indian suburb of Southall as Guru Nanak Road.
The proposal to rename Havelock Road after the founder of the Sikh faith came to the fore in the wake of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's new Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to review the UK capital's landmarks in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, which have targeted memorials to historical figures with links to slavery and colonialism. Havelock Road is named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock, the British general behind the quashing the Indian rebellion against the East India Company in 1857, referred to as the first war of Indian independence.
The local Ealing Council Leader, Councillor Julian Bell, welcomed the London Mayor's review and said he has launched a parallel action within the borough of Ealing which covers Southall.
One suggested proposal is the renaming of Havelock Road in Southall, a section of which could be renamed Guru Nanak Road. There will be full and proper statutory consultation before any changes are made, Bell said in a statement on Wednesday.
Our diversity is our strength. We need to make sure that our public realm, our statues, road names and buildings reflect our diversity, and not a frozen past where colonialism, racism and the slave trade were present and celebrated, he said.
The local MP for the area, veteran Indian-origin Labour Party politician Virendra Sharma, welcomed the initiative and threw his weight behind Guru Nanak Road as the answer.
I have long campaigned for schools to teach more about our imperial past, not just the great strides made but also the shameful thuggery and violence, names like Havelock belong in books, classrooms and museums, not on the streets to be celebrated, said Sharma.
The community should come together to decide how we rename this road, but celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his 550th anniversary, and erasing a white man who killed Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, would be a sign of our multiculturalism and our diversity," he said.
Ealing Council has said that it will lay out the full terms of the consultation process in due course as part of its review.
The wave of anti-imperialist action against landmark names across the UK has been prompted by the dramatic pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, during anti-racism protests recently in Bristol.
Another statue of a slave trader, Robert Milligan, was later moved by the Tower Hamlets Council from London's Docklands and there is an ongoing campaign for the removal of similar sculptures, including that of Robert Clive from his birthplace of Shropshire over his role in colonising India.
by Nadia Hatink