New signs plan stalled

PUBLISHED: 12:15 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 21:43 31 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL project to install new welcome signs at the entrances to Saffron Walden has stalled because of a dispute over the town s slogan. The tagline Birth place of English democracy which could be displayed on the signs has divided opinion and f

A CONTROVERSIAL project to install new welcome signs at the entrances to Saffron Walden has stalled because of a dispute over the town's slogan.

The tagline "Birth place of English democracy" which could be displayed on the signs has divided opinion and forced the issue back to consultation.

Now the Saffron Walden Partnership Board (SWPB), the driving force behind the scheme, is urging people to vote for the message they want to see greeting visitors to the town.

Chairman of the SWPB, Catherine Flack, said: "These signs will stand for about 60 years so we need to get it right.

"We didn't envisage there would be such strong feelings over the issue. We are going back to consultation because we want this to be something that everybody can support."

The signs will be displayed on each of the eight roads leading into the town and will display the town's name as well as a tagline. They will replace the hotchpotch of signs currently in place.

After dropping "Twinned with Bad Wildungen" from the shortlist, the three choices for the town's tagline are 1) Birth place of English democracy 2) Market town since 1141 and 3) Welcome to Saffron Walden.

People can vote for their favourite by emailing swpb@rocketmail.com or post their ideas in the box at the Tourist Information Centre, temporarily situated in the Committee Room in Saffron Walden Town Hall, by Wednesday April 1.

At a meeting of Saffron Walden Town Council last Wednesday, the slogan "Birthplace of English democracy" narrowly won the vote for the council's backing. Cllr Keith Eden said the tagline would "generate excitement", but Cllr Jim Ketteridge said it was too "open to challenge".

In the first consultation carried out in January the slogan proclaiming the town as the birthplace of English democracy won by a narrow majority.

The bold claim stems from 1647, at the end of the first civil war, when the New Model Army was camped around Saffron Walden awaiting disbandment. Soldiers who had grievances over their pay elected representatives from their ranks to negotiate with government officials at St Mary's Church.

LET us know what you think. Email alistair.nelson@archant.co.uk

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