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Staines, hometown of Ali G, changes name to end ridicule

The new, "more upmarket" name of Staines-upon-Thames is hoped to bring in new business, but mainly put an end to years of taunting.
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Sacha Baron Cohen as his comic creation Ali G at a press conference for the the MTV Europe Music Awards in September 2001. (Anthony Harvey/AFP/Getty Images)

The British town of Staines, hometown of Sacha Baron Cohen's comic creation Ali G, has officially changed its name to Staines-upon-Thames.

In an article headlined 'Staines rebrands to escape stain of Ali G', The Guardian newspaper reports that Spelthorne borough council pushed through the change "after suffering years of ridicule."

The rebranding was suggested by a business forum, which hopes it will bring more business to the town, which is part of London's commuter belt.

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The BBC says that a number of critics, including the town's football club, have labeled the new name "pretentious".

However, it quotes Alex Tribick, chairman of the Spelthorne Business Forum, as arguing: "It's not pretentious, it's progress and the fact of the matter is there was a public consultation that returned with a two to one majority in favor of a change."

The Spelthorne borough councilor Colin Davis who spearheaded the campaign in favor of becoming Staines-upon-Thames, told the Telegraph that the old name "lends itself readily to humor."

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"We are actually a green and leafy town, with lots of old buildings and a beautiful Thames frontage. Then Ali G came along and there was a lot of negativity," he is quoted as saying.

Neither the town society nor the Staines Town Football Club will be changing their names.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/staines-hometown-ali-g-changes-name-end-ridicule