Staines considers name change to shed comedy connection

A town is considering a change of name in a bid to shake off links with the comedy character Ali G, local councillors said today.

The Surrey town of Staines is pondering a change of identity to Staines-on-Thames in a bid to attract more business to the area.

The proposal has been been put forward by Alex Tribick, chairman of the Spelthorne Business Forum which covers the area.

He said: "Everything we can do, even if it's a small thing like changing the name, can only be good for encouraging business and investment in the area.

"The River Thames, as a beautiful landscape, can only encourage businesses to make that relocation for the benefit of its employees."

However, Anne Damerell, secretary of the Staines Town Society, said she thought the idea was "absurd" and "pretentious nonsense".

"Towns have suffixes to distinguish them from other towns but there isn't any other Staines so why waste resources on something that is useless.

"I think if Ali G gets to hear about this attempt to gentrify Staines, he'll have a real laugh at us doing something so silly.

"Does Staines have such a bad reputation? We're just a normal place with a normal name, we do not need gentrifying, let's leave it at that."

Councillor Colin Davis, of Spelthorne Borough Council, said the town needed to shed its bad reputation which he blamed on the comedy character created by Sacha Baron Cohen.

He said: "The ancient and honourable name of Staines has been sullied by negligent reporting by the media on one hand and perhaps irresponsible humour on the part of others such as Ali G.

"Most people don't know where Staines is. Most people don't know it's on one of the most beautiful reaches of the River Thames."