Residents in Linlithgow protesting the name change of a local pub said their history and heritage are under threat.
Owner Greene King wants to change the name of the Black Bitch Pub to the Willow Tree over fears the current title could have racist connotations.
But locals are threatening to boycott all four of the Greene King owned pubs in the town if the change goes ahead.
At a protest outside the pub, one local told STV News: “I’m very passionate about trying to retain the name of the pub because of all the connotations with the town.”
Jean Old who has lived in the town for 90-years said: “I’m sad that they are even thinking about it because that means so much not just to people in Linlithgow but people who are passing through.”
Greene King said that after consulting with the community, they decided to rename the pub the Willow Tree after a tree across the road which was planted in 1832 to commemorate the Reform bill being passed in Parliament.
However, Alistair Old, spokesperson for the Action Committee has hit out at the decision calling it hypocritical.
He said: “Benjamin Greene who is their founding owner fought to stop that reform bill going though so it’s ironic that they are actually using that tree to name the pub.”
Sir Geoff Palmer OBE, who is the chancellor of Heriot-Watt University and a human rights activist, told STV News: “An argument about the name on a pub which relates to a female black dog has now turned into racial arguments. From my perspective it’s the name of a dog in a historical story.”
A petition to stop the name change has been signed by 11,381 people.
A Greene King spokesperson said: “We respect the proud history of Linlithgow and listened to community feedback before choosing The Willow Tree as the pub’s new name to mark another important piece of local heritage.
“We intend to invest in the pub and ensure it continues to be an important community hub in Linlithgow for years to come.
“It has never been our intention to cause any upset by changing the name, and we know some people have said they will no longer use our Linlithgow pubs because of this, but we cannot ignore that we’ve heard from many people, including people living in the town, who don’t feel comfortable with the existing name written on the front of a pub, even when the context is known.
“We’re pleased to continue serving the Linlithgow community in our pubs.”
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