Islington Green became 'Islington Memorial Green' before the renaming was quietly shelved earlier this month.
Published: 6 July, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
TOWN Hall officials have said the controversial decision to rename Islington Green did not breach any constitutional rules despite revelations that it was made without any documentation or written instructions.
Questions over the validity of the switch to “Islington Memorial Green” were first raised last month when the Tribune revealed that correct procedures had not been followed.
Opponents of the plan – including CND vice-president Bruce Kent – were outraged that the decision to rename the historic green space was made without consultation. They described it as “ill-thought out”.
Labour insiders said they had got carried away after the idea was suggested by the Islington Veterans’ Association.
They wanted to draw more attention to the war memorial in the park on Upper Street.
The saga began in March when Lib Dem and Labour councillors voted unanimously at a full council meeting for a motion to rename the Green.
But as full council does not have the authority to change the name the motion called for Labour’s ruling executive to consider the name change.
However, following the public outcry the decision was not put to the executive, which meets in public.
Instead, environment chief Councillor Paul Smith said that he held responsibility for taking the decision.
“I’m the executive member responsible, and as far as I’m concerned, the decision has been made,” he said at the time.
However, the Tribune pointed out that under Islington’s constitution Cllr Smith – as an individual member of the executive – did not have the power to make the decision.
Article 57 states: “It is not currently envisaged that individual members of the executive will take decisions as these will be taken by the executive as a whole.”
The council’s press office said that the authority had been delegated to Cllr Smith by Town Hall leader Catherine West.
The Tribune submitted a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) for all the documentation and emails relating to the name change.
There is, however, no documentation.
The council’s FOI officer said: “A motion was passed at the council meeting on 29 March 2012.
"It is possible that the motion was discussed in meetings with councillors, but I am afraid there is no record of any correspondence.”
A council spokesman said that this does not mean the decision or its execution was invalid.
“Under the council’s constitution there are some functions which only the council can exercise, some which are executive functions and some which are a matter of choice,” he added.
“The issue of the name given to council land is an executive function, hence the full council could not make a decision in respect of it and referred the question to be considered by the executive.
"Under the constitution corporate directors can take decisions on executive functions unless they are specifically reserved to the executive itself.
“This function – the renaming of a piece of land – is not.
"The fact that the council referred the matter to the executive does not override the constitutional arrangements as to who can take which decisions.”
The council quietly shelved the plan earlier this month.