Villagers in Kent are demanding the council changes a "homophobic" road name

Borough Green, the heart of the controversy. Image: Google.

At first, the residents of Borough Green, a small village in Kent,  thought the new cul-de-sac's name was funny. As one gay couple (who didn't wish to be named) told the Telegraphthere's a certain "initial humour" in the name "Bangays Way".

But as time went on, and road signs were erected in the village's new residential development, the name started to look less like a schoolboy pun, and more like an offensive slur. As the couple, who have lived in the village for almost seven years, told the Telegraph:

We reflected that this street name was actually pretty offensive. Somehow seeing it on the sign made it look even worse. We are pretty sure the sign will be subject to frequent vandalism and possible theft.

So one of the couple took their complaint to the chair of the local parish council, and Tom Tugendhat, their local MP. Tungendhat has since confirmed that he'll support the attempt to get the name changed: “His complaint is not without merit, so I am perfectly happy to support him.”

The couple and Tugendhat are hoping to change the name to "Frank Bangay Way", to make its context a little clearer: the name was always intended to be a tribute to Frank Bangay, a local parish councillor, who died in 1999. According to the couple, it was the addition of the extra "s" that made the name offensive (other roads named after local notables haven't had the same grammatical treatment, they point out). But the parish chair said this would never do, as the name was meant to pay tribute to the entire family. 

Bangay's daughter, Marian Smith, was not amused by the furore: 

We are all very proud of our surname and both of my parents were very prominent in the village for many may years. Our surname has been researched back to the 16th Century by a relative. I too feel that if the couple who are so afraid of what people think that they make an issue could well find themselves in litigation

Mr Bangay himself was, of course, not available for comment, but we can only assume he'd be more than a little confused by the whole thing. Let's hope the village can reach some sort of compromise before the situation turns nasty. 


Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps clash over free bus travel for under 18s

A London bus at Victoria station. Image: Getty.

The latest front in the row between Transport for London (TfL) and national government over how to fund the capital’s transport system: free bus travel for the under 18s.

Two weeks ago, you’ll recall, TfL came perilously close to running out of money and was forced to ask for a bail out. The government agreed, but offered less money, and with more strings attached, than the agency wanted. At present, there are a range of fare discounts – some up to 100% – available to children depending on their age and which service they’re using, provided they have the right Oyster card. One of the government’s strings, the mayor’s office says, was to end all free TfL travel for the under 18s, Oyster or no Oyster.

The Department for Transport’s line on all this is that this is about maximising capacity. Many working-age people need to use buses to get to their jobs: they’re more likely to be able to do that, while also social distancing, if those buses aren’t already full of teenagers riding for free. (DfT cited the same motivation for banning the use of the Freedom Pass, which provides free travel for the retired, at peak times.)

But in an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote that TfL believed that 30% of children who currently received free travel had a statutory entitlement to it, because they attend schools more than a certain distance from their homes. If TfL doesn’t fund this travel, London’s boroughs must, which apart from loading costs onto local government means replacing an administrative system that already exists with one that doesn’t. 

Some Labour staffers also smell Tory ideological objections to free things for young people at work. To quote Khan’s letter:

“It is abundantly clear that losing free travel would hit the poorest Londoners hardest at a time when finances are stretched more than ever... I want to make sure that families who might not have a choice but to use public transport are not further disadvantaged.”

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, is set to meet government officials next week to discuss all this. In the mean time, you can read Khan’s letter here.

UPDATE: The original version of this piece noted that the full agreement between the mayor and DfT remained mysteriously unpublished. Shortly after this story went live, the agreement appeared. Here it is.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.