Pub to change ‘racist’ name despite backlash from locals

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A 350-year-old pub in West Lothian, Scotland has been given permission to change its name from The Black Bitch over growing fears that the name could be seen as racist.

wners Greene King will now rename the pub to The Willow Tree following a public consultation, despite facing backlash from local residents.

More than 11,000 people from the local community signed a petition to stop the name change and some 500 objections were submitted.

Greene King had to approach the government for help after a decision to rename the pub was previously deferred by West Lothian Council.

The pub’s name comes from a local legend about a black dog, which features on the town’s heraldic crest, that brought food to its starving owner. A statue commemorating the legend still stands in the town centre today.

According to government reporter Elspeth Cook, who is involved with approving plans for listed building and advertising consent, there are no grounds to refuse plans to change the historic name as the name has “no direct connection to the event”.

The pub has had two names prior to The Black Bitch – The Western Tavern and Robert Braes Wine and Spirits.

“As a result, I do not consider the name of the business is an integral element of the historic interest of these buildings,” said Ms Cook.

The West Lothian History and Amenity Society said the term “black bitch” had been associated with the town for over 700 years, with natives of Linlithgow “proud” to be known as “black bitches”.

They said: “The term describes a female canine, rightly called a bitch which is black in colour – nothing offensive, no misogyny involved.”

The society added that Greene King had “jumped to the wrong conclusions” and “read something into the name which does not exist”.

Linlithgow Civic Trust added: “According to their managing director, Greene King is on a journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation and has already changed the names of a few of their public houses in England on the grounds that the names have racist connotations.”

However, the chain appears to have no plans to change the names of other pubs called The Black Horse or The Black Bull, concluded the trust.

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