Councils have been warned against paying homage to local heroes with plaques, footpaths and municipal buildings in case the individual is one day exposed as a paedophile.
Streets should no longer be named after individuals in case they are later found to be linked to “inappropriate activities”, according to the latest official guidance.
“It avoids the possible occurrence of future information coming to light that may then taint that specific road name based on an individual and give rise to costly street rename procedures,” the new rules, which have been issued by Geoplace, the local government quango that oversees the official database of addresses used by councils and emergency services, say.
Hundreds of streets, statues, and footpaths were renamed in 2012 in a costly operation after Jimmy Savile was exposed as a child sex abuser, including plaques outside his home in Scarborough and Leeds Civic Hall.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said it supported the guidance, arguing it would save taxpayers money.
“There can be significant cost and practical difficulties associated with changing street names should that be necessary in future years,” An LGA spokesman told The Independent.
However, many have criticised the recommendations.
“I’m frankly staggered someone has spent time and energy coming up with these guidelines,” leader of Barking and Dagenham Council Darren Rodwell told The Telegraph.
“If this was thought up years ago, Churchill would not have places named after him and, who knows, we would have had to think twice about naming Trafalgar Square.”
Local government minister Marcus Jones also condemned the new guidelines, arguing naming streets after local heroes was an “excellent way” of commemorating individuals who “give their lives in service of their country.”
Councils have also been encouraged to bar the word “the” from new place names to help avoid confusion for the emergency services.
The new protocol has been introduced as part of a nationwide initiative to improve the National Land and Property Gazetteer, which is used by the emergency services and other national bodies.