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Staines wants to change its name to… Staines-Upon-Thames

BY Boon Koh
Published 18 November 2011

David Cameron must not have expected this when he imagined his idea of “Big Society”. The residents of the wonderful town of Staines, feeling very self-conscious of themselves about the association of the Staines name with “Ali G”, voted 2-to-1 in a poll to change the name to Staines-upon-Thames.

I can’t even remember how long the Ali G movie came out ago, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G, a character in the fictional Staines Massive gang. But its clear that the residents of Staines have been traumatised by a fictional movie, and of all the imaginary snickering they believe is taking place in neighbouring Slough, Windsor, Woking, and Kingston. And the name change isn’t really that radical either – just changing to Staines-upon-Thames. Which still has the Staines name in it, and will probably still be referred to as Staines by everyone else in the country. Just like Kingston-upon-Thames is mostly still referred to as Kingston.

“The final figures were 428 for and 234 against. I believe it will herald a new era for the town which has suffered from a woeful image”, said Alex Tribeck, the chairman of Spelthorne Business Forum. He believes the Staines name is crimping the town’s effort to attract new businesses to the area. And supposedly, he believes the new name, Staines-upon-Thames, won’t.

At least the local football club, Staines Town FC, has a bit more sense than the business forum: “We do hope the council gets the message and throws these stupid ideas on the fire where they belong. We have submitted a letter and four pages of comments and I can promise that regardless of what happens we won’t be changing our name. That is not up for grabs”, said Staines Town FC Club Secretary Steven Parsons.

So is it a good idea for the town to change their name from Staines to Staines-upon-Thames? I’ve seen a lot more head-scratching decisions made before, but one thing’s for certain: in my mind, it is now crystal clear why the Spelthorne Business Forum is having trouble attracting new businesses. And its got nothing to do with the name.