Friday, 1 February 2013

MUCKY LANE

CIVIC PRIDE

(My pictures have all been electronically stolen!)


Do you happen to know how many named streets there are in Melton Mowbray? Well officially, at today's date, there are 699 and I must confess that it is a much larger number than I would have ever dreamt of.  But hold the front page, I have just discovered that there are now 700 and that that civic milestone was passed recently with the unheralded appearance of a brand new, shiny plate which proudly displays the name, 'Mucky Lane' near to the entrance of our swish new Council Offices at Burton End; how twee.  Locals know that lane has always existed there - or almost there - but it was never officially named or at least, signed.  We are informed that this particular little thoroughfare has apparently been generally known with this soubriquet from time immemorial - or whenever - and will now hopefully furnish a warm glow to the tourists who come to admire our shiny new H.Q.



Walking around our ancient old town, as I am wont to do occasionally, I never fail to be perplexed and oftentimes amused, by the plethora of seemingly crass and quite simply, baffling, street names which have been and are still being, allocated to the new highways and by-ways which continue to replace the former meadows which once skirted our boundaries. In the Northeast of the town where the foreboding Framland Hospital once stood as an isolation hospital, we now have the metamorphosized Framland Residential Home which today '... offers a skilled elderly care service ...' within its 31 rooms at 'Clark' Drive. Accompanying Darren, this still-living golfer, are Torrance Drive; Faldo Drive; Lyle Close and the absolute mother of them all, Laura Davies Close! What on earth have a bunch of rich, has-been golfers got in common with Melton Mowbray. When the kids grow up and ask who Laura Davies was, I wonder how many will recall that she was in fact, once a top woman golfer or whether she came from these parts or not; certainly not that she was a local person who had once served the Town well. From the fairways of Framland, travel west and across the Scalford Road and you find yourself in what is colloquially known in the area as 'The Poets Estate' where, on the way to Nottingham Road we meander betwixt the choice literary plums of; Dickens; D'arcy; Keats; Shelley; Tennyson and Galsworthy et al. Once again to exclaim, "what the heck has 'Rabbie' Burns got to do with us here - or perhaps he once rented a hunting-box nearby; who knows? Just beyond the back gardens of Burns Close lie three small tributaries named Russet, Bramley and Laxton; though I don't believe that there were ever any orchards there.

Am I being inequitable? is it just me being mischievous? Well I have purposely ignored other blatant examples from the north side of the town in order to turn my attention to the sixties development of the Leicester Road Estate, once a prime greenfield area but now generally accepted as residential without a combative thought. But who dreamt up the idea that the interlinking roads should be named after many of the rivers of England; what a brilliant flash of inspiration from some unknown benefactor who seemingly possessed the powers and the rights to decide these matters. I won't name the rivers as there are indeed too many, but one river in particular, Redbrook (Crescent), I have so far failed to trace. If one travels into the deep south of Melton, over even more of the former agricultural land, we have the ornithological connection with the Robins, Wrens and Woodcocks etc. which I will perhaps concede are quite relevant to most rural areas. Adjacent to our feathered friends and sited on the most recently developed large estate developed in the town, we can recall the moments of our countryside rambles in the vast collection of name relating to wild flora. But I cannot leave this side of town without a mention of the newly named streets which now replace the site of the old Police Station which once stood on the Leicester Road for almost fifty years. Who on earth dreamt up the idea, formulated the required permissons and actually set up street name boards which are named after three of England's most iconic aircraft, the 'V' bombers Valiant, Victor and Vulcan, together with two from an earlier era, the Lancaster and the Halifax. Im not sure that any of these saw service at the local airfield, so what is their relevance to us.


THE RULES


Touristic or twee?

I felt the need to uncover what exactly was the legal criteria for the naming of new thoroughfares f and to discover what, if any, degree of interest is applied by our civic protectors of the local heritage: I found that the answer lies within the Council's own website, so let me lift a whole page of their instructions which state:


'Street Naming and Numbering is a statutory function. The relevant powers for local authorities are contained in Sections 64 and 65 of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act 1847, and Sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Public Health Act of 1925. This legislation requires the Local Authority to prepare street naming and numbering schemes and to maintain a good standard of street name plates.
It is important that developers apply to the Building Control Department at an early stage for a street numbering and naming scheme.  We will normally ask the developer for suggestions for street names based upon the history and/or locality of the area, providing they are not similar to any street name that already exists in the area these may be put forward for approval to the afore mentioned committee.
Following agreement with the developer to the proposed street naming and numbering, we will notify the relevant authorities and statutory undertakers of the approved scheme and Royal Mail will be asked to allocate postcodes. Royal Mail will not issue a postcode until informed by the local authority that an address has been allocated, an address is not complete without the correct postcode.
When the street name has been agreed a layout plan and a street numbering and naming schedule is prepared which allocates a number and street name to each of the developer’s plot numbers. Purchasers of new properties should be careful when passing on their new address details that they are using the postal number and street name, not the plot number and development name, as the two will not necessarily be the same.
Any request for a new or revised property number or street name must be requested in writing to the Building Control Department. A site plan must be submitted with the request on paper no larger than A3, the plan must indicate the property/properties the request relates too.
New street names should not duplicate a name already in use in the borough or neighbo[u]ring boroughs. Variations to the terminal word (street, road, avenue etc.) will not be accepted as a different name.
New street names should be of local significance and unsuitable names should be avoided.

Street names should not be difficult to pronounce or awkward to spell. In general, words of more than three syllables should be avoided and this includes the use of two words except in special cases.
So basically, what Melton Borough Council does is to ask for the submission of a pro-forma from the developer with his recommendations for names and points out that they have the authority to reject any suggestion. They mention that '... the afore mentioned committee ...' will be informed (whatever that is), but do not elucidate further.  The policy is then carried out.' (It is my red ink.)

OUR NEIGHBOURS


Now on the other hand, what of our immediate neighbours, the Charnwood Borough Council? Working from the same legislation, that body seems to provide a totally different and much more sensible policy practice which goes like this:

POLICY FOR THE NAMING OF STREETS ETC – OCTOBER 2003 
(i) This procedure relates to the naming of streets, footpaths, cycleways and parks
within the borough of Charnwood.
(ii) The following be included as consultees during the naming procedure:
Parish and town councils, Parish Meetings, Loughborough and District Civic Trust,
Loughborough Urban Forum,  Loughborough History and Archaeology Group, local
history and natural history groups, the developer and other persons who from time
to time may be identified as being appropriate
(iii) After the granting of planning permission, in the case of all sites, the above bodies, as
appropriate, be consulted and requested to suggest a name or, as the case may be, a
list of names or themes, that accord  with the principles outlined below, for
consideration.
(iv) The principles for the assignment of new names are that they should:
• not relate to living people
• not be the same as or similar to other street names in the area (to avoid
confusion)
• avoid potential mis-spellings
• relate, wherever possible, to one or more of the following:
(a) local history/historical associations/historical figures;
(b) existing local themes in street names;
(c) local natural history associations;
(d) local industrial/sporting or twinning themes;
• avoid the potential to cause offence. 

Different? Just a little, I suggest that it is chalk and cheese! So what of the cavalier and apparently unthinking attitude of our friendly ruling body? I'll bet that there were great jollies and local consultation on the christening of 'Mucky Lane' with the local civil and heritage groups; a real wheeze that one. So come on Building Control, get your act together and see if we can match up with the apparently sensible - and sensitive - folk from Charnwood and for the sake of us residents, let us bring an end, once and for all to these dilatory or uncaring practices. I know for sure that there are many living souls around the town who would prefer to remember those of a now lengthening list of soon-to-be-forgotten, 'non-living' persons who have at least lived in and more importantly, have contributed something tangible to the Town.

Now then, is someone is going to tell me that the Civic Society or local Historic Society did in fact, approve of these unsuitable street names, or were indeed, consulted on the subject? If that is the case then it is time for rant over and back to my dark room. To visit the Melton Mowbray and District Historical Society (M.M. and D.H.S.) web site,  CLICK HERE

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