Council to stop putting the word ‘the’ into names of streets to help emergency services

Street sign

Street sign - Credit: Archant

Choosing a name for anything – from a new baby to a new car – can prove a challenge.

Sailing in the Broads. Picture: James Bass

Sailing in the Broads. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

However one district council is overhauling the way it names its streets following complaints that the current system is confusing the emergency services.

Breckland Council is to make changes to its policy including to stop putting the word 'the' into names of streets and properties.

A report to the council's overview and scrutiny commission says this change follows a request by the emergency services.

It claims 'valuable seconds are lost' as 999 operatives debate whether or not to include 'the'– from a property name or street address – in address searches, causing 'unnecessary confusion and delay in finding the address'.

The Forum in Norwich.

The Forum in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

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The council is also to stop using 'parent shells', a name associated with a collection of properties e.g. a block of flats.

The report makes the example of a flat complex called 'Eastgate House', which had its own street address – 5 Eastgate Street – and separate numbered flats within.

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It is claimed that confusion arising between the neighbouring properties – for example 1 Eastgate Street compared to Flat 1, 5 Eastgate Street – was causing 'unnecessary distress and upset' to residents as medical professionals, delivery drivers and even debt collectors found themselves knocking on the wrong door or utilities bills were sent to the wrong property.

Another policy change in the report is to stop naming streets after people, due to the 'ramifications' of seeking appropriate permission from relatives.

If the changes are implemented, they will only apply to new houses and roads, not those already in existence.

A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service said it was common practise on an emergency call for call handlers to check a person's address twice and ask for a postcode, although very common names such as 'The Street' could cause confusion.

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said the issue had not caused any problems for staff.

The council has an obligation to ensure all streets and properties in the district are named and numbered and keeps a record of all addresses, known as the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG).

A Breckland Council spokesperson said: 'The proposed changes aim to make it easier for blue light services to quickly and easily identify the exact location of people calling them for help so they can respond as swiftly as possible.'

'Making addresses simpler will also benefit residents on a day to day basis, as addresses with multiple numbers and details can potentially cause confusion, particularly when placing online orders, completing forms, or speaking to people who don't know the area well.'

The proposals will be considered by the overview and scrutiny commission before a recommendation is put forward to the council's cabinet.

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