Poor grammar plagues Preston's street signs

The Queen's English is more like "Queens English" in Preston.

Apostrophes have been blacklisted on road and street signs in the city – because they apparently cause confusion and create errors.

But the controversial omissions have sparked a furious backlash from English language campaigners who want all apostrophes returned to city signs.

In a statement, which features no apostrophes, the city council says: "As a general rule we try to avoid the use of apostrophes in our road and street signs.

"Like many other councils we believe they can cause confusion among residents, and also increase the risk of inconsistency and errors.

"This does not, however, stop the signs from conforming to the relevant British Standard. This specifies a standard format for geographic references that the council always adheres to".

But the Queen's English Society (QES), which campaigns for better standards of English, has hit out at city road names such as St Pauls Square and St Margarets Close in Ingol – instead of St Paul's Square or St Margaret's Close – saying they are setting a bad example to youngsters learning basic grammar.

Other examples include St Clares Avenue in Fulwood and St Vincents Road, also in Fulwood.

Martin Estinel, founder of the QES academy, blames the city council.

He says: "We would say to Preston Council that the apostrophe is a characteristic of our language – you can't decide administratively that you are going to change the nature of the language.

"Young people will walk to school and walk through 'St Pauls Square' and remember the way it is written and have no idea of where the apostrophe should go.

"Not only are they flying in the face of a long tradition of our language but they are contributing to its demise – it's a double whammy."

John Richards, founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, agrees.

He says: "This is a totally backwards step and I have protested about this several times elsewhere. We have talked about the disservice that it's doing to children.

"If they got the signs right every time, there would be consistency.

"They should get the apostrophe correct and put it in.

"When they remove a sign or change it, they should correct it."

Apostrophes have hit the headlines elsewhere in the country after so-called 'Apostrophe Man' Stefan Gatward, of Royal Tunbridge Wells, was branded a vandal for using a paintbrush to add a missed apostrophe on a sign outside a home in St Johns Close.

Meanwhile, authorities such as Salford Council in Greater Manchester have been issuing advice to staff about how to use apostrophes correctly.

The QES has also been in an ongoing battle with Birmingham Council after it decided to remove apostrophes from new street signs.

>> Vote in our latest web poll

Music, cinema, theatre, comedy - searchable events listings here