Cambridge: Apostrophe Ban Lifted

6 February 2014, 15:54 | Updated: 6 February 2014, 18:24

Cambridge City Council has today announced that apostrophes will be included on new street signs.

The authority has changed policy, after being criticised for initially following guidelines that stated proper punctuation wasn't required on new signage.

Councillor Tim Bick, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: "After consulting with my colleague Cllr Tim Ward, Executive Councillor for Planning, we decided we must call time on the great apostrophe debate. 

Cllr Ward has taken an executive decision to amend our street naming policy to make clear that for future new street names in Cambridge we will not be obliged to avoid proper punctuation when it is required by the relevant name.

It is now clear that the original decision made two years ago to ban the apostrophe from street names flew below everyone's radar, amazingly even after public consultation at the time.

It is a nonsense to deny the English language when applying it to everyday terms describing where people live. 

A minor matter has become a major story and it is time to put it to bed. We rue the day we allowed ourselves to be influenced by a bureaucratic guideline which nobody has been able to defend to us now that it has come under the spotlight.

Councillor Tim Ward, Executive Councillor for Planning, said: "If the system is able to accommodate all the old street names which still have apostrophes and there are also councils which have never signed up to the policy, then the system can accommodate the relatively small proportion that will need one as new streets get named. 

We understand that the body whose guidance we were following when determining our street naming policy in 2011 has subsequently reversed its own position on punctuation. 

So, there is now no reason at all for us to retain it as a part of our policy.

We already subscribe to keeping street names as simple as possible for the purposes of easy recognition and we do so in consultation with the emergency services and Royal Mail."

Kathy Salaman, director of the Longstanton-based Good Grammar Company, said: "Obviously it's a great decision. 

A sensible decision. There was a great strength of feeling out there. 

I acknowledge that apostrophes are not a matter of life or death. 

But it's important when we're trying to raise literacy standards in the country and raise Britain's profile throughout the world as we languish in literacy tables.'' 

Ms Salaman said claims that apostrophes on street signs may hinder emergency services had been "blown out of the water'', as she claimed fire, police and ambulance services in the area had said it was "not a problem''.