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Council to reinstate Harrogate street sign… with its apostrophe

Thursday, 16 May 2024 09:41

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

The sign on St Mary's Walk in 2022 before it was replaced.

Grammar sticklers in Harrogate will rest easier after North Yorkshire Council said it will reinstate a controversial street sign with its apostrophe.

It was reported this month that the council would ban apostrophes on street signs across the county to avoid problems with computer systems.

The decision provoked a fierce debate about the importance of grammar in the modern age and whether it could lead to a slippery slope in standards.

The council replaced a street sign at St Mary’s Walk in Harrogate without its former apostrophe which led to one resident going rogue and adding it back with a black pen.

But speaking yesterday at a full meeting of the authority in Northallerton, Conservative executive member for transport Cllr Keane Duncan said the sign will be replaced with a new one that includes its beloved apostrophe.

He pledged that the punctuation mark will “live on” in the county and all future street signs will now include it.

Cllr Duncan said:

“This has attracted press attention as far away as New York and Australia. It’s also attracted condemnation from the Apostrophe Protection Society, a force not to be reckoned with.

"I’m pleased to confirm that the council is not abandoning standards.

“The apostrophe will live on here in North Yorkshire, the county will continue to be a haven for proper punctuation on street signs at least.

"All new signs will be fully punctuated not only with apostrophes but with hyphens and ampersands, too. 

"There will be no unnecessary abbreviation of names either and we will replace the controversial St Mary’s Walk street sign in Harrogate with the apostrophe reinstated.”

Cllr Duncan added that North Yorkshire Council has plans to introduce a single policy on all new street signs.

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