TRADE and civic chiefs in Accrington have rounded on a popular author and radio DJ after an ‘insulting’ portrayal of the town in his new book.

Stuart Maconie, a BBC 6 Music presenter and a regular on TV, travelled to Hyndburn while writing Hope and Glory to retrace the history of the Accrington Pals, who fought in the First World War.

However, the book paints a less-than-flattering portrait of the town today, complaining of ‘pallid youths’, ‘chain-smoking women’, graffiti and the prevalance of shops like Cash Converters that offer payday loans.

Maconie writes: "The main street is a crowded, unlovely hotchpotch of cheap shops, minicab offices and fast-food outlets that can fur your arteries just by looking at their logos and a few desultory and cheerless pubs."

However, his criticisms were rejected today.

Michael Whewell, a chamber of trade member and owner of Whewells of Accrington in Bridge Street, said: "I live and work in Accrington and it is not very comforting to have these sorts of comments from outsiders.

"It is insulting.

"The town centre has had its problems but we have tried to improve its image.

"Cash Converters is a national chain. We also have a Costa Coffee and a Marks & Spencer but I notice he doesn’t mention those."

Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson added: "We would all like to be like Knightsbridge or Monte Carlo but we are a hard-working town that’s going through change to make it better.

"It is very easy to knock from the outside."

Hope and Glory, Maconie’s sixth full-length book, also features the author’s visit to Peel Park and names the Haworth Gallery as one of Accrington’s highlights.

Wigan-born Maconie has written for NME and Q magazine and now lives in the West Midlands.

Today, neither Maconie nor his publisher, Ebury, responded to requests for a comment.