Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's in a Name?

Basildon District Council's Conservative administration wants to change the name of the Council to Basildon Borough Council. This changes the Chairman of the Council to a Mayor, some stationary, and not a lot else. Total cost around £1000. So, why bother? Well, Basildon is surrounded by boroughs, they are pretty much the norm in Essex, and successive Chairmen of the Council have had to put up with being called the Mayor by, well, almost everyone outside of Basildon District. There is also another reason; Basildon proper was a New Town, but that was decades ago. The image the Council wants for Basildon District today is of a mature community, that no longer needs to be treated as a special case and which can compete with any of the Boroughs in Essex as a place to live and do business. Branding is important, and name is a key part of brand.

Anyway, to change to a Borough there has to be a two thirds majority for the motion at a Council meeting and then a petition is sent to the Queen. Pretty straightforward you would think, but no. The local Labour Party had the idea, pure genius this, of having a local referendum on the subject, and when that was refused their Councillors voted against becoming a borough. At once they decried the expenditure, wanted to spend a tens of thousands of pounds on a referendum, declared the matter unimportant, and put their opposition to it in their election material. Consistent they are not. Still, they like Gordon Brown.

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