Council ‘murders’ apostrophes in street sign row

A COUNCIL that has abolished the use of apostrophes in street signs because they caused “confusion” has been accused of ‘murdering’ the punctuation mark.

• Mid Devon council moves to abolish apostrophes from street signs to “avoid potential confusion”

• Move condemned as “appalling, disgusting and pointless”

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Authorities at Mid Devon council made the move - branded “appalling, disgusting and pointless” - after carrying out a risk assessment on the issue in order to “avoid potential confusion... in times of emergency”.

The controversial decision rubber-stamped a long-standing policy where apostrophes were not applied to street names.

“If we didn’t have a clear street name and number policy in place it could lead to inappropriate and confusing street names which could also have adverse consequences in times of emergency,” a council spokesman said.

But campaigners have denounced the council, accusing them of “contempt” for the English language.

Steve Jenner, spokesman for the Plain English Campaign, said: “It is as if the council is saying it simply doesn’t fancy apostrophes now.

“What if they don’t like commas or full stops or capital letters? There is no need to murder the apostrophe, it is very much needed in the English language.”

John Richards, founder and chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, said: “It is appalling, disgusting and pointless, they have no regard for the English language.

“Throughout the area, teachers are doing their best to teach children grammar and the children have the right to say ‘why bother?’ when the council doesn’t use apostrophes.”

However, the council said that are only three streets in the district that have apostrophes at present: Beck’s Square and Blundell’s Avenue in Tiverton, and St George’s Well in Collumpton.

Andrew Lacey, communications manager at the council, said: “Our proposed policy on street naming and numbering covers a whole host of practical issues, many of which are aimed at reducing potential confusion over street names.

“Although there is no national guidance that stops apostrophes being used, for many years the convention we’ve followed here is for new street names not to be given apostrophes.”