Sheffield's racist street names 'will not change', council says

Image source, Google

Image caption,

Canning Street is among a number of streets in Sheffield named after people who were heavily involved in slavery and violent suppression

Street names and public art in Sheffield that "perpetuate racist, outdated and uncomfortable messages" will not be changed, a council said.

The local authority conducted a review after a series of protests, in which a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol in 2020.

It found there were a number of streets in the city named after people who were heavily involved in slavery.

A Race Equality Commission report would be published in 2022, the council said.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the review, which included Sheffield Council, Sheffield Museums, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, was presented to the commission earlier this year.

The review said there were features across the city in street names, collections and public art which "perpetuate racist, outdated and uncomfortable messages".

Roads such as Canning Street, Cannon Hall Road, Dundas Road and Havelock Street were named after people who were heavily involved in slavery.

While the city did not have any statues dedicated to such people, there was a stark lack of diversity in its monuments, the review found.

Image source, PA Media

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A plaque bearing Jessica Ennis-Hill's name is cemented in the pavement of Sheffield's Walk of Fame

Of the 100 on the council's asset register, none were dedicated to a non-white figure.

A plaque honouring Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is the only one in Sheffield's Walk of Fame, situated outside the town hall, which celebrates someone of ethnically diverse heritage. 

The report noted that many of the historical figures celebrated in Sheffield were social reformers and abolitionist campaigners such as James Montgomery and Mary Anne Rawson.

It said a consultation on the findings took place between July and September and found a majority of respondents did not want to see any changes.

A council spokesperson said: "We acknowledge this strong feeling and are not currently intending to change any of the existing street names or remove any statues." 

They said the authority would "act on its recommendations" set out in the Race Equality Commission report.

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