The decision to drop the possessive apostrophe on Birmingham street signs has made the city a laughing stock, it has been claimed.
And now grammar police on the opposition Labour Group have vowed to bring it back if they return to power in the Council House.
The policy pledge came as city transport scrutiny chairman Martin Mullaney (Lib Dem, Moseley and King’s Heath), who brought the issue to the nation’s attention, faced a barrage of questions from fellow councillors.
He hit the headlines last month for suggesting that after years of inconsistency city street signs for places such as St Paul’s Square would from now on all drop the possessive apostrophe.
His inquisitor in general was veteran Conservative Peter Hollingworth (Harborne) who said: “Whichever ignoramus decided to dropped this apostrophe should put it right free of charge.
“It has made Birmingham a laughing stock. It might not have been noticed before, but now we have noticed it we should do something about it.”
His views were backed by Labour transport spokeswoman Coun Kath Hartley (Ladywood) said: “After 16 years as a secondary school English teacher this dumbing down really annoys me. What’s next? Council reports in text speak?
”The Apostrophe Protection Society is correct to lament this move as a retrograde step. People often place a lot of importance on accuracy as a measure of their confidence in an organisation, and I believe this step will weaken the perception of Birmingham.
”It’s a barmy move, and Labour pledges to reverse the decision when back in power.”
Coun Mullaney said that the apostrophe had been gradually removed over the last 50 years as signs were replaced or repaired leading to inconsistency.
“If we were to bring it back then we would have to do some research into which roads need it and which do not - for example is Lozells Road named after someone or simply named because it goes through that area. It needs some historical research and the keeping of a central register of place names.”
He was backed by Coun Tim Huxtable (Coun, Bournville) who added: “If the apostrophe is missing I don’t think I have got the wrong street. I think we have better things to spend our time and money on.”