Lambeth wants to rename wards named after “slaveowners or supporters of slavery” in the borough’s ward boundary shake-up.
The Local Government Boundary Commission looks at ward boundaries when the population of electors – residents with the right to vote – changes.
It aims to make sure councillors represent a similar number of people within a borough.
The Commission is currently taking submissions for what the boundaries in Lambeth should be in future, while it has recommended that the number of councillors stay the same at 63.
At the last review in 1999, the electorate was 183,695 with a projected increase to 192,103 in 2003.
On March 1, 2020 the electorate was 244,634 with a predicted increase to 256,560 in 2026 – this means that every councillor should represent an average of 4,072 electors.
The council has published its proposals, which the Commission will consider before making a final decision.
“It is clear that the borough has already seen significant and rapid growth with even more expected over the next six years.
“The makeup of the borough looks very different to how it was at the last review.
“Therefore there has to be some significant changes to some wards, particularly in areas where growth is most profound in order to reflect the current and emerging communities,” according to Lambeth’s formal submission.
There are currently 21 wards in Lambeth, each with three councillors.
The council is proposing 22 wards – 19 would have three councillors and the remaining three wards would have two.
It is also proposing changes to several ward boundaries.
The council has suggested making Waterloo, Knights Hill, and St Leondard’s two-councillor wards, and adding a new ward in the Vauxhall area – Vauxhall Riverside.
The new ward, according to the council’s proposals, would cover the Vauxhall area while Oval ward would be more centred around the Oval tube station, St Mark’s Church and Oval Cricket Ground taking in some areas from the current Vassall and Stockwell wards.
Vassall would be renamed Myatt’s Field & North Brixton
The council wants to get rid of Vassall and Thurlow Park wards because of their links with slavery.
According to the report: “Many wards in the area reflect their geographical location and continue to be relevant.
“However, several wards are named after prominent slaveowners or supporters of slavery, namely Vassall and Thurlow, and we propose to remove those names from the ward map.
“In contrast, Henry Thornton MP and his daughter Marianne were prominent abolitionists and we believe their names should be preserved.”
The council is proposing to move Vassall ward closer to Brixton, to take in the Angel Town Estate, and to rename it ‘Myatt’s Field & North Brixton’.
“Vassall Road and therefore the ward are named after Henry Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland, who developed much of the area.
“He was a slaveowner and it is proposed that the ward should no longer carry his name.
“Given the new boundaries locate the ward much more firmly in the Brixton area, we propose the ward should be named Myatt’s Field & North Brixton,” according to the council.
In the north, it is proposing that most of the area north of Vassall Road is moved to join Oval ward, “the community with which it has a greater connection”.
Thurlow Park would be renamed Rosendale
The council is also proposing that Thurlow Park ward be renamed ‘Rosendale’ and that it should be expanded to take in the entire length of Rosendale Road.
“A former Lord Chancellor, Lord Thurlow, after whom the ward was named, was a prominent apologist for slavery.
“It is therefore proposed the name should no longer be used for the ward.
“We propose the name Rosendale, the name of the road running through the middle of the ward as well as the popular primary school, the public house, the Rosendale Gardens housing estate, and the allotments and playing field,” according to the proposals.
Once agreed, the changes will come into effect after the 2022 elections.