Villagers in one pretty UK town are rejoicing after winning a battle against their local council over a grammar gaffe on one of the area’s street signs.
It all began when retired teacher, Oliver Gray, became frustrated after spotting that an apostrophe had disappeared from the road sign in St Mary’s Terrace in the Hampshire village of Twyford.
He complained to Winchester City Council, which is responsible for the signs, prompting detailed discussions in the council chamber which even saw one of Twyford’s most famous daughters, Jane Austin, quoted.
Anger in the village grew, with its Liberal Democrat councillor, Tony Bronk, formally putting the question to council officials saying its own rules claimed it liked the correct grammar in its signage.
He told the council: “Residents of St Mary’s Terrace in Twyford were surprised and disappointed to find that when their street nameplate was replaced last year it was missing an apostrophe.
“When this assumed error was questioned, the answer given was that the council’s policy required that all new street name signs must omit any apostrophe formerly shown on such signage.”
Council leader Martin Tod replied that he felt it was an issue which could lead to high emotions.
Mr Tod said: “Clear and unambiguous street and place names are vital for postal and other delivery services and also for the emergency services, and punctuation can make that more difficult, particularly with modern computer systems.”
He said the council had been told by national government that all new street signs should omit apostrophes, but added that this did not mean scrapping punctuation on existing signs.
Mr Tod admitted that the council had often left punctuation out of signs, but added that Austen had not used punctuation consistently in her books either, The Telegraph reports.
But he agreed the sign was “not in line with residents wishes” and was “confusing, before ordering the apostrophe to be reinstated.
The decision brought an end to Mr Gray’s 12-month battle with the council, which has seen numerous villagers and grammar pedants join his campaign.
The corrected sign was also welcomed by the Apostrophe Protection Society, who told the Guardian it was not a trivial issue.
Chairman, Bob McCalden said: “Getting rid of apostrophes from street names is a form of cultural vandalism. It’s like spelling it wrong. You wouldn’t dream of spelling a street name wrongly but taking an apostrophe out is tantamount to just that.”