As the Bond Street Laine mini-saga its end-game, some threads might unravel tidily when the Magistrates Court decide (or otherwise) on the true name of this street.

Some facts are certain, though the chronology might be time-warped. It was legally named by East Sussex Highways & Transport Committee at their meeting on 17th August 1981. Some officer affixed street nameplates denoting the names “Bond Street Laine” and “Bond Street Lane” on at least two dates, if not three, since it is assumed the first nameplate used was the correct name “Bond Street Laine.” Of course, the presence of an actual street nameplate does not prove anything much.

Some officer duly notified the name “Bond Street Laine” to other relevant authorities such as Royal Mail, the Land Register, Ordnance Survey and in particular, the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) , the definitive address hub to which all local authorities sign up to. During the course of time, of course, Brighton was merged into Brighton & Hove Unitary Authority (1997) and then became a City in 2000.

In all that kerfuffle somewhere along the road, the “i” got dropped by the national Ordnance Survey map when it got digitised. And, as Judge Drop said to the hangman, “we are where we are.”

The Brighton Society seem to have first got involved when an incorrect “Bond Street Lane” nameplate was removed and replaced with the correct nameplate Bond Street Laine. And the local street nameplate officer compounded the confusion by writing a letter to the properties (after the notification of the proposed name changed was posted on the drain pipe) which seems to have transposed the two street names when detailing the history of the erroneous nameplate.

The letter seemed also to deliberately and partially try to skew the history of the name: it then states “ If a strong argument is put forward to retain the existing spelling of the street name, we will of course take this into consideration before making our final decision.” This letter was addressed “ The Owner/Occupiers, Bond Street Laine.” The onus of proof thus seems to have been forced on the residents to justify keeping their streetname, whereas it is arguable that the onus should be on the Brighton Society to show the alleged error is of sufficient importance to change the name.

A desk-top survey of local authority street naming policies that address the issue of changing the name of a street all emphasise that it should only done if there have been problems caused to the emergency services by the use of the existing street name. Local history is relevant of course but at the pre-naming stage not after the street has already been named. Many mirror the provisons of the Section 21: Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 under which a high percentage of the actual residents in the street are asked about the proposal before even notices are posted on drain-pipes. B&H does not use that law to change a street name.

Of course, it could be argued that the onus was shifted to the residents when “after due consideration” the request by the Brighton Society was accepted and a review was undertaken. The details of that “due consideration” are not clear: what is clear is that no public meeting by any Cabinet member took place before the council decided to propose the name-change and force residents to go to court to justify keeping their own street name.

It is not clear how the re-naming process is done. The final decision is with the Council, it seems, though objections are sent in the first instance to the Magistrates Court.

It is ironic that a Council which prides itself in democratic localism , now (it seems) wants to pass the buck to the unelected Magistrates Court to decide a street name, a street in which real live people are born, live, work and die. Such a re-writing of local history is unworthy of any local history society. It is precisely the uniqueness of the term “laine“ that will be preserved by Bond Street Laine street name and nameplate if the Magistrates decide to keep it as it is.

And it is precisely because it is unique that it should keep its name rather than lose it on the grounds of alleged historical impropriety.

Readers who submit articles must agree to our terms of use. The content is the sole responsibility of the contributor and is unmoderated. But we will react if anything that breaks the rules comes to our attention. If you wish to complain about this article, contact us here