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Babergh Council name change decision pushed back to allow councillors "more time" to consider it

PUBLISHED: 16:30 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 14 October 2019

Babergh District Council is to consider changing its name Picture: BABERGH DISTRICT COUNCIL

Babergh District Council is to consider changing its name Picture: BABERGH DISTRICT COUNCIL

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Controversial proposals to rename Babergh District Council in Suffolk because people couldn't say its name have been kicked into the long grass just a week before councillors were to decide on it.

Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council Independent deputy leader and cabinet member for planning said it would give councillors more time to consider the change. Picture: GREGG BROWNClive Arthey, Babergh District Council Independent deputy leader and cabinet member for planning said it would give councillors more time to consider the change. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Divisive proposals to rename a Suffolk council because people couldn't say its name have been kicked into the long grass just a week before councillors were to decide on it.

Babergh District Council, pronounced "Bay-ber", was due to discuss a potential name change to South Suffolk Council at a special meeting on Tuesday next week.

But the council's leaders have opted to cancel the meeting and push back the debate to give councillors more time to consider it.

According to the authority, any name change is unlikely before 2021 - more than 18 months after it was due to be discussed.

Conservative leader John Ward recognised there had been lots of national attention on the debate. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNConservative leader John Ward recognised there had been lots of national attention on the debate. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A firm date for the matter to return has not been given, and may not surface again until after the next elections in 2023.

Independent councillor Clive Arthey, deputy leader, said: "We recognise that there's a lot to consider and want to provide more time for all councillors to fully consider the potential benefits, implications and costs before meeting to reach any decision."

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"Part of the rationale for the proposed name change was to help raise awareness and investment in the area - with people from further afield unaware of where Babergh is and what it has to offer."

Green councillor Robert Lindsay said there were more pressing issues to focus on. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGreen councillor Robert Lindsay said there were more pressing issues to focus on. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The matter made waves nationally, where the pronunciation of the authority became a talking point.

The council has been in existence since 1974 but the Babergh name first featured in the Domesday Book in 1086 as "baberga" - believed to refer to a hill owned by a man called Babba.

According to the council, a name change can only be made if two thirds of the council pass a resolution at a specially convened meeting.

Conservative council leader John Ward said: "We have received valuable feedback both for and against the proposals over recent weeks that will help in our future discussions and we are extremely grateful for the free publicity we have received in the meantime, both nationally and internationally, that has helped people understand exactly where Babergh is located, and how to pronounce it!"

Green group leader Robert Lindsay said: "It's John Ward's idea and I have got some sympathy with it, but he needs to get a two thirds majority to get it through.

"We had a meeting of all the group leaders and it's quite clear that a majority isn't there at the moment.

"I am pleased we are not considering it because there are far more urgent things that need to be done, like the climate emergency, that are worth spending money on."

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