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County signs to return in Whitehall ban lift

Words: Helen Bird
English flag

Councils will be able to put up boundary signs marking traditional English counties, in a change to planning rules.

To mark St George's Day, Eric Pickles today (23 April) announced the initiative to protect the 'tapestry' of traditional English counties.

This includes lifting a Whitehall ban on the names of traditional counties being displayed on street and road signs.

The government is also publishing an online interactive map of England's county boundaries.

The government is also said to be proposing changes to highways regulations to allow traditional county names, such as Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Westmorland and Middlesex, to appear on boundary road signs.

The current rules prevent unitary councils, like Blackpool's, from having a road sign that reads 'Lancashire', or Poole's reading 'Dorset', since they are not considered to be part of an 'administrative county'.

While councils are not being forced to make any change or to put up unnecessary signage, the intention is to free them from Whitehall 'red tape' and support local tourism and tradition.

Local communities will be able to lobby their councils for the restoration of traditional boundary signs, including campaigns by public subscription.

The move forms part of a series of steps to champion England's national identities.

"I believe we are stronger as a nation when we cherish and champion our local and traditional ties."

"The tapestry of England's counties binds our nation together, and is interwoven with our cultural fabric – from our cricket to our ales,' said Pickles.

"Previous governments have tried to wipe the counties off the map, imposing bland, administrative structures or alien 'euro-regions'.

"But I believe we are stronger as a nation when we cherish and champion our local and traditional ties. This government is proud to wave the flag of St George alongside both our county flags.

"Whatever one’s class, colour or creed, we should have pride in our English identities within the United Kingdom’s Union that binds us together."