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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Ellie Kendall

Bristol streets named after Edward Colston won't be changed, says city council

Bristol City Council has said streets in the city named after former slave trader Edward Colston will not be changed - unless the move is supported by "all property owners" on the road. Since the toppling of Colston's statue in June 2020, there have been continuous calls for reminders of the late slave trader to be removed from Bristol's pubs, schools and even streets.

But in response to a recent Freedom of Information request put to Bristol City Council about the name changes, the authority has said changes to street names cannot happen without "overwhelming support from property owners". What's more, those who do give consent for their street name to be changed would have to front the administrative costs to change legal documents associated with the changes.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: "We require that all property owners on a given street provide their consent for its name to be changed, as such a move incurs administrative costs for those individuals/businesses to change legal documents etc. We have no plans to change this position.

Read more: The Bristol things named after Edward Colston that have changed their name in the past year

"We would therefore need to see overwhelming support from property owners on a given road in order to consider contacting all of them to confirm their unanimous consent to begin the process of changing their street's name. This has not happened for any of the roads that [the FOI] request mentioned."

Calls to remove Colston's name and image from streets and institutions in Bristol is not new, and pre-dates the Black Lives Matter rally three years ago which saw Colston's statue pulled down and pushed into the harbour. Prior to that global event, the campaign was mainly headed up since 2016 by the Countering Colston group.

Campaigners had hoped to see a number of streets in the city restored back to their medieval names. Colston Street was once Steep Street, while Colston Avenue was St Augustine's Back/Bank - residents had wrote numerous letters and submitted a petition to the council to ask for these changes.

Back in December 2020, Bristol Live reported that Cllr Kye Dudd who, at the time, was working on the council's cabinet as head of transport and energy, had said he supported the idea and would help make it happen. He formally proposed it be considered by the mayor's new History Commission, which at the time included historian and TV presenter David Olusoga, as well as a number of other leading academics in the city, who were working to 'examine Bristol's past'.

And while it seems unlikely that any 'Colston' named roads will be changed anytime soon, a number of buildings and schools across the city have already made the change. Following the June 2020 events the Colston Arms in Kingsdown changed its name, first to 'Ye Olde Pubby Mcdrunkface'.

Then in 2022 it changed its name permanently to the Open Arms, while Colston School was also renamed as 'Collegiate School' and the much-loved concert venue - the Colston Hall - has also had a name change, in addition to a complete revamp, and is now known as the Bristol Beacon. Colston Tower is now known as Beacon Tower.

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