Cecil Rhodes’ tenants say block does not need to honour anyone
Estate looks set to be renamed in wake of Black Lives Matter protests
03 July, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Cecil Rhodes House in Somers Town [Simon Lamrock]
CECIL Rhodes House – the council block at the centre of Camden’s review into buildings with “troubling associations” – should not be named after anyone, its tenants and residents association said this week.
The Town Hall is looking to remove the imperialist and white supremacist’s name from the estate in Goldington Street, Somers Town.
The review follows the Black Lives Matter protests and the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. Suggestions for a new name have ranged from the activist and journalist Claudia Jones to murdered teenager Richard Everitt, while some Labour councillors have suggested the block is named George Floyd House – after the man who died in US police custody in May. But the Goldington Street Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TRA) put out a statement this week saying it should not be named after any individual.
“If there is to be a change of name, many residents have called for involvement in the process and the TRA is planning to invite tenants to suggest names to put forward to the panel for consideration during the consultation,” it said.
“A shortlist could be drawn up and the tenants of Cecil Rhodes House invited to vote to choose the new name.“The TRA committee’s preference is for the buildings not to be named after a person.”One of the councillors on the panel said naming the block George Floyd House was “not the answer”.
Lib Dem councillor Tom Simon said: “We can’t just rename a building without talking to the residents first about it. And I don’t think George Floyd House is the answer. I’d like to see someone with a connection to Camden.” Cllr Simon said he had recently listened to an audio recording of a women who lived in the area called Norma Ashe-Watt. She can be heard on the council’s website talking about working for British Railways at the former Midland Grand Hotel. S
he helped set up the Keskidee centre in King’s Cross, considered to be the first community and cultural centre for the black community in the country.
“She is the sort of person the panel should be looking at,” said Cllr Simon. “We should also have a panel looking at modern-day slavery and discrimination in Camden. Camden Council is pretty good with issues of discrimination, but there’s always ways to improve.”
Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould has said: “There are a few places in Camden whose names have troubling associations – and we need to have an urgent, informed and open discussion with our communities about changing these.”