Buy a street name: Moray Council devise new way to raise cash

The town of Forres in Moray will offer street naming rights for a price. Picture: Geograph/Creative Commons
The town of Forres in Moray will offer street naming rights for a price. Picture: Geograph/Creative Commons
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A cash-strapped council has resorted to selling off the names of streets to businesses which opens up the possibility of addresses such as Asda Avenue or Tesco Terrace.

Firms will be able to buy the rights to name roads and landmarks that make up new housing developments.

And bosses at Moray Council expect to earn around £20,000 a pop with each sponsorship deal which they hope will help plug a budget black hole.

The council needs to make up to £5million in savings by the time of the next budget and is seeking creative ways of raising funds.

Council leader George Alexander, who represents Forres, hailed the plans as an “excellent idea”.

Elgin City South Labour councillor John Divers claimed that there were no dissenting voices against the scheme which is thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland.

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He said: “Everyone has been largely in favour of the idea.

“We’re making sure that councillors have final say on any proposed names so that it isn’t any companies with bad reputations that are taking over.

“We’ve got millions of pounds of debt and need to raise funds in any way we possibly can.”

Fochabers Lhanbryde SNP councillor David Bremner praised the ingenuity of the scheme to generate cash.

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He said: “I think it’s a good idea. It’s an example of somebody in the council thinking outside of the box.

“It’s important that elected members retain the final say though before anything changes.

“I’m pretty sure people would be angry if a company came along with environmental, tax-paying or human rights credentials that are less than perfect.

“Roundabouts already have sponsorship signs up. This wouldn’t be that much different.”

The payments were included in Moray Council’s new street naming and numbering rules that were agreed at a recent planning committee meeting.

The offer will be made open to local companies and will only be available on new roads to avoid the confusion of changing addresses.

Moray’s head of development services, Jim Grant, was hopeful that distilleries in the area would think it was a good idea to have nearby locations named after them.

He said: “It’s really come about due to the council’s financial constraints and officers looking at the opportunities for additional income.

“We think there’s probably limited use for this but we do believe there would be a few opportunities where a commercial company may wish to ‘sponsor’ the name of a street or a bridge that provides some commercial benefit.

“I’m particularly thinking of distilleries and things like that - long-standing industries that may wish locations close to them being named after them.

“I think it’s unlikely to come about very often but I think it’s worth having in the policy to allow us to do that.”

Sponsored roads would still have to comply with the general principles of street names, which include preserving historical names from the area, commemorating local events or culture, and honouring noteworthy people.

Proposed names will have to be approved by local councillors before being introduced.

With more than 4,000 homes currently proposed for Elgin over the next 20 years, the town is likely to present firms the biggest opportunity to buy a street.

Elgin’s community council chairman, Alistair Kennedy, was eager to avoid blatant advertising such as “Buy one get one free street”.

But he said it was important the council pursued new avenues to generate income.

“I don’t think it would really cheapen communities.

“Streets have to be named anyway so why shouldn’t the council be able to make some money off it? Just as long as we don’t see anything stupid.

“I think distilleries and things like that could work. At £20,000 though it’s a lot of money. I don’t know how successful it will be at that price.”