In December 2022, the Council had received a notice of motion from Councillor Dorsett which proposed the renaming of Henry Plaza to Queen Elizabeth II Plaza. The motion stated:
“The passing of Her Majesty Queen is one of the most important events in our lifetime. Many Woking residents, including current and former Councillors, made the journey to Westminster to pay tribute by “Queuing for the Queen”. Our own events over that week, including the Proclamation of the new King, and the moment of National Reflection, were extremely well attended by Woking residents, and Jubilee Square was fill to capacity. Given the strength of feeling Woking residents clearly have for the Royal Family and especially to the memory of Her Majesty the Queen, we are proposing a permanent tribute to Her Majesty. With that in mind it is proposed we rename Henry Plaza, the newest part of the Victoria Place, to Queen Elizabeth II Plaza.
Given that the Plaza opened in March of this year, the same year of her Platinum Jubilee and her untimely passing, it feels right in this year we can commemorate her memory with this tribute. Few residents are aware of the reasoning behind the current name of Henry Plaza. But having it be named Queen Elizabeth II Plaza, along with Jubilee Square and the Victoria Place itself, feels thematically constant. This tribute will reflect the love and admiration for her felt by our Woking community.”
The motion had been referred to the Executive for consideration and, at its meeting in January 2023, the Executive had recommended that the motion should not be supported. The Square had been named after Henry Cawsey, a local resident who had served on both Surrey County Council and Woking Borough Council. He had been a Borough Councillor for over fifty years, had been elected Mayor and had been chosen as one of the first Eminent Citizen’s of Woking. The Executive had, however, supported the ambition to commemorate the life of the Queen and alternative locations would be considered.
In introducing the recommendation of the Executive, the Portfolio Holder for Special Projects, Councillor Forster, further advised the Council of the legal and financial implications of a name change of the nature proposed. A street name change recently reported in the press, for example, had revealed that it had cost the local Authority £185,000. It was emphasised that Members supported the idea behind the motion but that Henry Plaza was not suitable, recognising the likely costs involved and the upset the proposal had caused for the family of Henry Cawsey. It was therefore reiterated that other locations would be explored for a suitable memorial and that a plaque would be erected in Henry Plaza setting out the significant contribution Henry Cawsey had made to the Borough for over half a century.
Councillor Dorsett spoke in support of the motion, stressing that the proposal sought to achieve a lasting memorial of the Queen, recognising the impact she had had on generations of Woking residents. He had not intended any disrespect to the family of Henry Cawsey, though noted that many residents were unaware of the former Councillor and Mayor.
The Members debated the merits of the motion before the Portfolio Holder responded to the key points raised. The Mayor advised that, in view of the nature of the debate, the recommendation of the Executive would be put to a vote in accordance with Standing Order 10.8. The names of Members voting for and against the recommendation, were recorded as follows:
In favour: Councillors Dr H Akberali, T Aziz, A-M Barker, A Boote, W Forster, P Graves, I Johnson, D Jordan, A Kirby, R Leach, L Lyons, L Morales, J Morley, E Nicholson, S Oades, M I Raja, D Roberts, J Sanderson and T Spencer.
Total in favour: 19
Against: Councillors A Azad, J Brown, K Davis, S Dorsett, G Elson, C Kemp and M Whitehand.
Total against: 7
Present not voting: The Mayor, Councillor S Hussain.
Total present not voting: 1
The recommendation was therefore carried by 19 votes in favour and 7 votes against.
That the motion be not supported.