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On The Naming Of Streets
The Public Notice for the proposed re-naming of “Bond Street Laine” to “Bond Street Lane” was posted on the drain-pipe at the Bond Street corner of the alley last week. Another notice was affixed on the railings at the west end of the passage that lead up to the steps to the flats above three shops in Bond Street. The flats were part of the re-development of that mini-quartier in 1981 and it was the developer who name the street, approved by East Sussex Council Council.
Letters to the occupiers of the premises affecting were sent this week, in which some background details were explained. It seems the current street name-plate had only been replaced a year or two ago and some locals noticed it had been changed from “Bond Street Lane” to “Bond Street Laine”. As the letter explains: “It would appear that some years ago an error occurred resulting in the original name of Bond Street Lane appearing as Bond Street Laine on the street name plate. This error was not picked up at the time and your property was registered as per the street name plate.”
Google Maps show the street name-plate on 2009 as “Bond Street Lane”. It is not known if the correct “Bond Street Laine” name-plate had ever been erected in this alley, which links Bond Street to the cul-de-sac Jew Street and leads to steps up to the side of the multi-story carpark off Church Street. Certainly, the post-code BN1 1RT shows it correctly as Bond Street Laine and the letter concludes: “Should the name change be implemented we will notify Royal Mail, emergency services, Land Registry and other council departments on your behalf so that records can be updated.” There is no mention of estate agents or residents in Bond Street Laine being given compensation.
Local and national guidance notes about the naming of streets emphasize that they should not give rise to spelling difficulties or be awkward to pronounce. Indeed, the National Street Gazetteer (NLG) states that “Street Names Must Reflect Views Of Local People” and that “Under statute, the consent to any change must be agreed by at least two thirds of the tax payers in the street.” . In this case, there seem to be only 3 properties in this street.
Local history watchdogs, such as the Brighton Society, had raised concerns that the use of “laine” was inappropriate. An ePetition ran from 07/09/2011 to 05/01/2012 and attracted 50 signatures. It was withdrawn before it went to any Cabinet meeting for debate as the Brighton Society decided to apply directly under the Public Health Act 1925 for a name change instead.
The petition said: “The word "laine" is of anglo-saxon origin meaning "loan" or "lease" and was the Sussex dialect term for the open arable fields of the feudal system of agriculture. Its use has survived uniquely in Brighton to the present day and its correct application should be jealously guarded as part of Brighton's history and unique character.”
As the local community association Chairman Peter Crowhurst said: ‘’To understand fully the history of Brighton and North Laine, one needs to understand the difference between ‘Laine’ and ‘Lane’. To leave this incorrect signpost Bond Street La(i)ne in place is to say that history does not matter. We and our environment are the product of our past and to understand ourselves and our community fully, we need to recognise the importance of history. The council should take it upon themselves to put right this historical inaccuracy.’’
On the other hand, a dialectologist and historical linguist Grahame Davis seems to suggests that the whole word ‘laine’ is just been a spelling mistake: “ ‘Laine’ is no more than a variant spelling of lane (a field strip) - the pronunciation is unchanged . The spelling ‘laine’ is an example of an invented linguistic tradition It has the same status as "ye olde coffee shoppe" - an artificial creation. Even North ‘Laine‘ is a bit spurious. Getting a lane within North Lane respelt from ‘laine’ to ‘lane’ would be a small step in the right direction.”
Anyone, be they resident in Bond Street Laine or elsewhere , can object (with reasons) to the proposed change but they must do so in writing (not by e-mail) to the Brighton Magistrates’ Court, Edward Street, Brighton BN2 0LG by 21 working days from the notice i. e. March 20th 2012.
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