French name sparks more streets anger in Loanhead

Locals are angry at another proposed street name in Loanhead.
Locals are angry at another proposed street name in Loanhead.

More concerns have been raised in Loanhead about Midlothian Council’s street naming policy in the town.

Following recent anger about names given to new developments in Loanhead there is now frustration with the name to be given to new housing planned at the site of the former Paradykes Primary School, library and GP surgery.

Midlothian’s Provost Peter Smaill (Con) has decided to name the development Charpentier, the French word for carpenter and the maiden name of Sir Walter Scott’s wife. The couple lived in the parish at the beginning of their marriage.

However, Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny questioned the name’s connection to the town.

He said: “It’s a very tenuous link to Loanhead. We don’t want some French name that means carpenter. We want something that means something to Loanhead.

“It would have made sense just to name the streets Paradykes. There is an avenue already but it could have been used again for different streets.

“This doesn’t seem to have any links to Loanhead. It just doesn’t suit Loanhead.

“I don’t know why he is coming up with names like this that are not relevant to Loanhead.”

Mr Kenny is disappointed with the lack of consultation with locals on the issue.

He said: “I don’t know if he is trying to bring culture to Loanhead but everyone is up in arms about it.

“He should consult with local groups. We at the community council would be happy to help him. Why not put it out to the general public instead of being decided by one person, the Provost.

“If there is any information he needs about Loanhead he should just read Alan McLaren’s book which was gifted to him.”

Provost Peter Smaill said: “The issue is as to whether Loanhead should celebrate its connection to Sir Walter Scott who with his French wife Charlotte Charpentier settled in the parish and district at the happy beginning of their marriage.

“Pat Kenny encourages me to read local historian Alan Maclaren’s splendid two volume history of Loanhead. He indeed firmly claims the Scott connection for the burgh - Loanhead has a mention in his novel “ Heart of Midlothian”. Is he aware of that?

“Indeed the Scott Society is active in Midlothian, and the council has in recent years brought Scott to the primary school in Loanhead as elsewhere.

“The burgh is twinned with the French town Harnes: so the objection to the original surname of Scott’s wife being a French word, Charpentier, is strange.

“Should an existing name have been tried? Under the street naming rules set-up by the previous SNP council administration, and following best practice throughout the UK, the repeat use of local street names is not within policy as it can on occasion cause confusion to many groups, including emergency services.

“Inevitably, growing Loanhead will thus require a mix of innovation as well as tradition in the streets of new developments. In the present case, Loanhead’s cultural connections are being celebrated through historically connected but nevertheless new street names.

“Under the Council’s naming system, timely contributions to naming ideas following grant of permission are always welcome.”