A row has broken out over a council officer’s efforts to postpone a lake-naming ceremony to which Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has been invited.
Members of the South Norwood Tourist Board (SNTB) had invited the lead character of the hit BBC TV series, Cumberbatch, to attend the renaming event on February 1 in South Norwood, that they claim is the first UK lake naming in 150 years.
The group plan to name the lake, which is in South Norwood Country Park, Lake Conan Doyle, in honour of the Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
But whether the ceremony would go ahead hung in the balance yesterday after the group received an email from Croydon Council’s Head of Public Safety, Tony Brooks, saying the council could not give permission for the event to take place until it was shown the necessary consulation had been conducted.
Organiser Ian Bone said: “I do not know what he is going on about. We have already contacted Mike Fisher way back in October and Paul Scott our local councillor and there were no objections.
“I do not why this has come across the desk of the head of public safety when it is just a renaming event. The parks department already knew about it. We liased with them back in October, no problems came out at all.
“I imagine now lines of riot police will be lining the park as 20 people dress up in pagan robes and Sherlock Holmes try to push their way through.
“We have two weeks until the event so I am sure Mr Brooks will see sense, the event is still going ahead as far as I am concerned.” A blue plaque at the property already marks Conan Doyle's time in the area from 1891 to 1894, but the group now want him to be further immortalised in the area, with the naming of the lake, that has support from the council.
SNTB hope Cumberbatch - who was just this week at the golden Globes in LA - could make a surprise appearance at the naming ceremony, which is already being attended by councillors and members of the Sherlock Holmes society.
Mr Bone said: "It is a long shot but we know Benedict Cumberbatch as got the invite so hopefully he comes along. It times perfectly with the show and it would be great if he makes it."
It is claimed by the group that the event will be the first lake naming in 150 years, with the lake being the fourth biggest in London and apparently visible from the moon.
After the success of the BBC TV series and the two Hollywood films directed by Guy Ritchie, the group have tried to capitalise on the high interest in the books by offering Conan Doyle walks and talks around South Norwood The ceremony coincides with the pagan festival of Imbolc which will see people dress up in robes and Sherlock Holmes attire as well as throwing petals on the lake surface.
The SNTB found fame last year after claiming the Lake District tag should instead apply to Croydon rather than the area in Cumbria.
Ian Bone, a member of the SNTB, said the Lake District only had one lake to South Norwood’s two, suggesting they had greater claim to the name.
Now, Mr Bone is hoping he can pull off an even better coup by getting Mr Cumberbatch along to the naming ceremony.
South London poet Tim Wells is also attending the event. The popular writer, who has seen his works published in Chinese and German, will be reading a special poem he has written for the renaming of the lake.
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