THE FIRST public meeting held in Shadsworth since the screening of a Panorama documentary on the estate invoked a strong reaction from leading figures.

The meeting was attended by key decision makers including MP Jack Straw, council leader Kate Hollern and Chief Superintendent Bob Eastwood.

Held in the Shadsworth Neighbourhood Centre, over 50 residents attended to discuss local issues, but it began with a riposte to the BBC over the documentary aired in September.

Mr Straw labelled the hour-long programme ‘disgraceful’.

He said: “There was an element of trickery in what they had done. If they wanted to make a programme on three families, two of which have genuine problems, and the other had just fallen on hard times, then that is fine. But to stigmatise the whole area in the way they sought to do was unacceptable.”

Mr Straw told residents that he would be writing to the BBC.

Ch Supt Bob Eastwood, who was interviewed for the documentary, said: “My sole priority was to make sure Shadsworth was not discredited.

“In total about two minutes of my interview was shown, when I actually spoke to them for around two and a half hours.”

Coun Hollern also branded the documentary ‘disgraceful’. She said: “I’ve never felt a place with such a strong sense of community as Shadsworth has.”

Ian Clark, executive director of Twin Valley Homes, said: “Panorama filmed with us for four days but they didn’t show any of it, they weren’t interested in good news.”

Among the issues raised at the meeting was rubbish being left in back streets and changes to housing benefit.

A BBC spokesman said: "Jack Straw’s allegation of “trickery” in the making of the Panorama Trouble on the Estate is both untrue and unfounded.

"We stand by our programme as a fair and balanced portrayal of life on the Shadsworth estate.

"We were open and transparent during the many months we spent there and we fairly and accurately reflected both what we were told and what we filmed.

"This included the view of the police and the positive work of the Fernhurst School in Blackburn and the efforts by Shadsworth residents to save the local swimming pool from council cutbacks.

"However the vast majority of people we spoke to, both on camera and off, told us that anti-social behaviour and drugs, are serious problems on the estate. We remain firm in our belief that it was in the public interest to bring these very real concerns, together with the issues of joblessness and family breakdown, to a wider audience.”