Following from Issue 4, in a well-attended evening session on the 15th December, Spelthorne Councillors approved a motion to rename Staines to Staines-upon-Thames after a formal inauguration to be held in May.
Whilst it’s unlikely that any celebratory exclamations of “bookyakasha” came from the councillors, who for years have sought to distance the Surrey town from its most notorious fictional resident and “ghost town” reputation, they were undoubtedly satisfied with the conclusion of the heated debate over the town’s re-branding. 25 councillors opted in favour of change, 4 were against it along with 6 abstentions. In an official press release, Spelthorne Council outlined its hopes that the measure would improve the standing of the town as a place to visit, live, and work.
The case was made for the re-branding of Staines on the grounds that it would yield economic benefits for the town and its residents, with the attachment of “upon-Thames” deemed necessary to advertise the riverside position of the town in order to attract potential business and investment. Furthermore, despite comments from neighbouring Runnymede councillors that the name Staines-upon-Thames ‘sounds like pollution’, councillors were keen to pass the motion in order to distance the town and its residents from its humorous reputation.
In September, 134 people had registered their opposition to the change by signing a letter of disagreement written by officials at Staines Town Football Club. However, these objections went unheard, as regulations forbade their formal objections submitted fewer than 5 working days prior to the crucial session.
In the wake of the vote, there was questioning of the depth of Spelthorne Council’s interaction with residents on the issue. Councillor Philippa Broom of Riverside and Laleham commented: ‘I have spoken to hundreds of residents, and have to say it’s clear to us that the residents’ association and about 80% of the people I spoke to are in favour provided there are no adverse cost implications’, adding that ‘the name change puts the Thames where it belongs – at the heart of our community.’
Following Councillor Colin Davis’ statement of the need for change, the motion was passed with Staines due to be officially renamed Staines-upon-Thames at a ceremony on the 20th May. The ceremony, to be attended by representatives of the crown, local, and national government, as well as the City of London, will be accompanied by the repositioning of the London Stone boundary stones from their current location in Lammas Park to their original position by Staines Bridge.