A COUNCILLOR who sparked a fierce debate when a controversial name change was mooted for a miners’ welfare hall has apologised alongside an under-fire parish council to angry locals who condemned the plan.

Coun Ashley Peace, who represents the North East ward, suggested that Great Houghton Parish Council’s members consider renaming the venue, on Rotherham Road, in Dorothy Higginbottom’s memory for the decades of work she put into the area.

She died aged 80 in 2022 having registered 16 years’ service with Barnsley Council and more than 50 years with the parish council.

Her daughter, Coun Dorothy Coates, is a current North East representative and also the chair of the parish council, following in her mother’s footsteps.

She described the backlash last week as a ‘vendetta against her family’ but thanked well-wishers for their messages of support.

However, although parish councillors some of whom stepped down over the public backlash refuted claims that it wasn’t ever agreed on, the Royal Mail’s website showed the building had its name changed to the Dorothy Higginbottom Miners’ Welfare Hall without official permission.

Coun Peace said: “Over the last couple of weeks l’ve received several emails, calls and messages from concerned residents in Great Houghton, concerned about the prospect of the Miners’ Welfare Hall having its name changed.

“In that time l’ve made my views very clear to the parish council on what I believe should happen next, without wanting to interfere in their business.

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“I now feel l have a responsibility to comment on behalf of the residents who elected me to represent them.

“I still believe that a fitting tribute to former councillor, Dorothy Higginbottom MBE, should be placed within the village in recognition of her decades of service to the village and the Barnsley borough.

“We should work together to make a decision on what that is.

However, in recent weeks residents have clearly expressed their views and l’ve listened and I recognise there is no appetite for the name change and I implore the parish council to listen to the concerns raised and withdraw the proposal in its entirety and leave the name as is.

“The suggestion of a tribute was made in good faith and not to take anything away from the miners or their families.

“l’m incredibly proud of our local villages’ rich mining histories and will continue to do all I can to ensure future generations have the same commitment to honouring their heritage.

“I know this has caused many of you to be upset and angry and for that I can only apologise.”

The Chronicle understands three parish councillors stepped down from their roles in the aftermath of a public meeting last month which saw ex-miners turn out in their droves to oppose the proposal.

A special meeting of the parish council, held on Saturday, saw members officially ditch the plan and the Royal Mail will be contacted to again change its name as a result.

Clerk Martin Fensome said in a statement: “As a result of the views of the residents that attended the previous meeting and those of the chair and chair’s family, members agreed that the hall will remain known as ‘Great Houghton Miners’ Welfare Hall’ and the Royal Mail informed of this.

“The chair and members of the parish council again apologise for any misunderstanding.

“The parish council understand the upset this matter has caused and trust that the matter is now closed.”