3. Terms explained and statutory context
Definition of a street
The naming of a street includes any road, square, court, alley or thoroughfare, within the limits of the Towns Improvements Clauses Act 1847 or relates to any thoroughfare which when named will be included in an official postal address.
Public Health Act 1925
Section 19 (Adoptive Provision)
Provides us with the duty to ensure that the name of every street, which is maintained at public expense, is shown in a conspicuous position and also to alter or renew it if it becomes illegible.
Anyone found guilty of damaging or removing a sign is liable to prosecution.
Signs for private streets are the responsibility of the residents.
Town Improvement Clauses Act 1847
The Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907
Section 21 of this Act gives the power to us as the street naming and numbering authority to alter a street name or assign a street name to all or part of a street where a name has not been given. It says:
"The local authority may, with the consent of two-thirds in number and value of the ratepayers in any street, alter the names or name of such street – or any part of such street."
The modern interpretation of the phrase "two-thirds in number and value of the ratepayers2 would be two-thirds of the property owners.
As the authority, we would not normally add or amend a street name except where there is a compelling reason eg problems arising for the emergency services or Royal Mail deliveries. In such instances we would consult with Royal Mail and the emergency services. The council would provide and install new street nameplates where necessary.
Our policy for considering a request from a resident or residents to name or re-name a street is covered later in this document.
We can cause to be put up or painted the numbers to the houses, as we think fit.
The Occupiers of houses and other buildings in streets must mark them with such numbers as we approve and they must renew them whenever we think it reasonably necessary.
Where an occupier fails to do this in a week from the notice from us, they are liable to a fine in the magistrates’ court if we decide to pursue them. We can mark or renew the numbers and the occupier must pay our cost of the work where we have had to take this course of action.
Power to charge under Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2003
A best value authority may charge a person for providing a service if the authority is authorised, but not required, to provide the service – that is the service must be discretionary. There must be a power to provide the service, the person receiving the service must agree to its provision, and the charge must not exceed the cost of providing the service.
Therefore the Council cannot charge for initial street naming and property numbering services (since the duty to provide this service is not discretionary), but it can charge for changing property names, changing street names and amending existing numbering (which is a discretionary service) by virtue of section 64 and 65 of the 1847 Act coupled with section 93 of the 2003 Act.