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Town branding: Who gives a Boerthals?
Branding: It pervades every aspect of our lives. These days, even councils have got in on the act, revamping their image with modern logos.
A new Private Member's Bill has has been proposed in the Commons to put a stop to this by preserving our historic crests and restoring civic pride in our towns.
Andrew Rosindell, Tory MP for Romford, who is behind the Bill, wants signs to bear the traditional name and crest of the area and "not the logo of the local authority unless it is very small and placed at the bottom".
He warned MPs the country's sense of identity was being undermined by modern authorities which may have "artificial names with no historic meaning".
If it goes ahead, signposts will display the traditional crests of each borough as you enter it.
Basildon Council chairman Sandra Hillier agreed it was important to remember roots and identity. She said: "Logos are important, especially the ceremonial one for Basildon. In this day and age I think we are losing history far too quickly.
"Our crest shows the four parts of Basildon - Wickford, Billericay, Pitsea, and Laindon - and I think it sums up the town very well.
"When I go out wearing it, a lot of people comment on it and ask what it's about, and the children think it's great.
"We also have the mother and child statue, which is in the middle of Town Square. It sums up Basildon beautifully."
Yet proposals keep coming forward to change the names of areas. Eighteen months ago, consultants hired by Basildon Council dreamed up a plan to rebrand the district Boerthals Hills - based on the Anglo Saxon origins of Basildon.
Councillors later relegated the plan to the dustbin.
One of the issues raised by the Historic Counties, Towns and Villages Bill is that town crests are being lost in favour of new logos.
Castle Point Tory councillor Cliff Brunt was annoyed by the new emblem chosen for Castle Point a year ago, which cost £2,000 - and at the expense of the crest.
He said: "My main gripe is the fact each of the areas named - Benfleet, Thundersley, Canvey and Hadleigh - does not start with a capital.
"I had a call from one of the primary school teachers on Canvey who said bad grammar like that doesn't help children when you are teaching them."
Another issue in the Bill which could affect Castle Point is the idea of going back to the true names of towns, rather than council names.
The name Castle Point was formed from the landmarks of Hadleigh Castle and Canvey Point - thought to be the most significant parts of the area - in 1974.
Mr Brunt said: "I think the postal code is actually Thundersley in Benfleet or Hadleigh in Benfleet, so you could name it Canvey and Benfleet. It would be good to know what people think."
Geoff Fulford, town clerk for Leigh Town Council, said its logo was a traditional one as it was adapted from the original emblem of Leigh Urban District Council, which ran from 1896 until 1913.
The emblem shows a boat in a cockle shell with ropes around it.
Mr Fulford said: "We like to put across a consistent message that Leigh has been here for a long time doing the same sorts of things and will continue to be here for a long time doing them."
For some time, Rochford District Council used a round, blue logo with wavy yellow and red stripes, supposedly to represent the sea and the land. It has since gone back to its more traditional crest, which contains elements from its 14 parishes.
At least Rochford is considered better than Crouch Valley District Council, which was agreed by the councils involved but rejected by the Government.
Being mindful of tradition, the first thing the newly formed Rayleigh Town Council did in 1996 was to reclaim the coat of arms of the former Rayleigh Urban District Council, which had been out of use for more than 20 years.
The move was strongly backed by local people, proving heritage is very much alive in the town.
In 1997, when Southend became a standalone unitary authority, councillors were torn between adopting the traditional coat of arms of the borough or a colourful logo to promote the town.
Designers came up with a compromise, with the modern logo of the pier at sunset along with the traditional crest above it.
The coat of arms displays a medieval fisherman trailing a net from his right hand and a Cluniac monk holding a red book.
Four of the main churches are also represented - the lilies symbolise the parish of St Mary in Prittlewell; the golden anchor is the emblem of St Clement, patron saint of the church in Leigh; the golden gridiron stands for St Laurence, patron saint of Eastwood Church; and the golden trefoil, a symbol of the Holy Trinity, represents the dedication of the parish church in Southchurch.
David Garston, councillor for a sustainable Southend, said he liked the mix of modern emblem and traditional crest.
But he added: "I think we have much more important things to do in terms of running the town than worrying about the logo."
As important as our heritage is, what people seem to want most is a council that delivers on its promises - and makes sure the bins are emptied on time.
Oh to be in Thundersley...
THE Echo asked people if council logos and names made a difference to their civic pride.
ELAINE DOUGLAS, 55, of The Common, Thundersley, said: "I find it weird living down here. I've not long moved out of London and there seems to be no real identity living out in the sticks with nothing going on. But I remember coming to Basildon as a child and have a clear memory of the statue there of the woman with the child - that stands out in my mind."
BOHDAN BEZDEL, 54, of The Commmon, Thundersley, said: "I think people identify with Thundersley because as you drive in on three or four roads now it says Welcome to Thundersley'. I think that's fine, we don't need logos. To be fair to local councillors, they have put up signs on each of the entrances into the village.
"A lot of people like being part of a village even though you know you're in the midst of an urban sprawl."
Pete Hodgkins, 58, of Raymonds Drive, Thundersley, said: "It's all about a sense of identity, that's what they are trying to create - belonging to a community. I could identify with a logo that symbolised the Thames estuary, which is one important part of our region. A proper crest would be better than a lot of squiggles."
Sue Hodgkins, 56, of Raymonds Drive, Thundersley, said: "I liked it when they gave us Welcome to Thundersley' signs. I wouldn't like to think they spent thousands of pounds on a logo which is not needed. I like the idea they put signs up, though. It makes it feel like more of a community, rather than just being known as another part of Benfleet."