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The chamber of commerce has been campaigning for several months to have the A atop an ionic column – adopted as the prospective trade symbol for road signs after last year’s competition in the Antiques Trade Gazette – included in the brown and white heritage road signs that are to be put up at the town’s approaches. The Antiques Trade Gazette sent a detailed explanation of last year’s campaign for a national antiques symbol to Gloucestershire County Council in March in support of Stow chamber’s planning application.

The town council supports the application, as does the local MP and Gloucestershire Tourism. Unfortunately, the County Council, which holds sway in the matter, does not and has turned down the application.

The county has told the chamber of commerce that it wants to promote the town but that the number of symbols on road signs is getting out of hand. A proposal to replace one of the existing symbols with the new antiques symbol was turned down because the county believes that only symbols that are instantly recognisable to passing motorists, without the need for additional explanation in words, are acceptable.

This appears to be at odds with its policy for signs at nearby Bourton-on-the-Water, however, where there is a brown and white sign including a symbol and words for a perfumery. The result is that Stow finds itself in a Catch 22 situation: it can only use the symbol once it has become instantly recognisable to the public, yet the symbol has no chance of becoming widely known until it is put up for the public to see.

Alan Rose, vice chairman of the town council and an ardent campaigner for the introduction of the symbol, now plans to lobby support from influential antique dealers in the town. Stow is home to the businesses of three leading figures in the trade: CADA chairman Sean Clarke, BADA chairman Antony Preston and LAPADA deputy chairman Mike Golding.