Branfill Road in Upminster is one of three roads in the borough with a known link to the slave trade
A petition was started last week over the names of Branfill Road, Champion Road, and Branfil Primary School, which are linked with former slave trader Captain Andrew Branfill.
Cllr Damian White said he had not been aware of the links prior to last week’s news reports, and he suspected that very few people previously knew about the connection.
“Now that we know, we can challenge ourselves and we can look through today’s values and beliefs at what happened back then,” Cllr White told Time 107.5. “To remove every element of it, I just worry sometimes it might not be for the benefit of our community. But if the strength of the feeling is that it should be done then by all means it’s something we should look at.
“I think a better approach is to confront it and educate people and I think it does pull it in a different context.
“Now that we know that school and those roads are named after a former slave trader, we can start educating people and have that debate and discussion.”
Cllr White also said that council officers were carrying out research to see if any other prominent historical figures from Havering had links to the slave trade.
“Of course, if the school would like to rename itself or, with local residents, the general feeling is that we should change those names, then certainly that’s something that we should do.
“But we should never be ashamed of looking at the past and learning the lessons again. If we try to sterilise history, we might be doomed to never learn those lessons.”
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