Burnley leaders’ fury as top political magazine says town should be ‘left to die’ (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Burnley leaders’ fury as top political magazine says town should be ‘left to die’
12:08pm Monday 14th October 2013 in News
BURNLEY’S political and business leaders have hit out at a national magazine after it said the Government should help people leave ‘decaying’ former industrial heartlands.
An editorial in The Economist said Burnley was among the places in the north of England that ministers should abandon.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle branded the story ‘absolutely disgraceful’ while Bank of Dave star Dave Fishwick said it was ‘disgusting’.
Mr Birtwistle said he wanted to invite the anonymous author of the story to come on a tour of the town with him.
The article was published with the headline ‘Britain’s decaying towns – City Sicker: Some towns cannot be preserved, Save their inhabitants instead’.
As well as Burnley, it named Hull, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool as places ‘in trouble even before the financial crisis’.
It said: “The fate of these once-confident places is sad. That so many well-intentioned people are trying so hard to save them suggests how much affection they still claim.
“The coalition is trying to help in its own way, by setting up ‘enterprise zones’ where taxes are low and broadband fast.
“But these kindly efforts are misguided. Governments should not try to rescue failing towns. Instead, they should support the people who live in them.
“That means helping them to commute or move to places where there are jobs - and giving them the skills to get those jobs.”
Mr Birtwistle, a Liberal Democrat, said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful. They must be looking at figures that are at least five years old.
“Over the last three or four years the town has completely turned around.
“We’ve just won a major award for being the most enterprising town in the UK and we’re in the final of the European competition.
“Millions of pounds of public and private money has been spent in the town and we are below the national average for unemployment.
“Whoever wrote this should come and have a look around before printing such rubbish.”
Mr Birtwistle said the story failed to acknowledge new developments in Burnley such as the University Technical College, Burnley Bridge Business Park, improvements to Manchester Road train station and the regeneration of the Weavers’ Triangle, which Prince Charles has taken a keen personal interest in.
He added: “My view is that it is time they got off their seats in London and came to see Burnley.
“They should issue an immediate apology.”
Burnley-born former Lancashire Telegraph reporter Tony Livesey, speaking on his BBC radio show, said the article was ‘provocative and insulting’.
Minibus tycoon Dave Fishwick, who runs Burnley Savings and Loans, in Keirby Walk, said: “I’m getting sick of it.
“Sometimes people forget towns outside London exist. It sounds like these people have never even been to Burnley.
“There a real skill base and work ethic up here and without the north of England, a lot of people down south wouldn’t have many of the things that they do.”
Labour’s Shah Hussain, Burnley Council’s executive member for regeneration, said the authority was working with 36 companies who were looking to relocate to Burnley.
Coun Hussain said: “They’ve mentioned Burnley at a glance because it is so often associated with being bad.
“You would think supposed good-quality journalists would do their research. It’s very disappointing and shoddy.
“Why would the Lancashire Digital Technology Centre be filled to capacity if we weren’t on the up?”
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