Nick Dawe, 29, a trainee bar manager from the York Road area of Hartlepool, said: “I think it’s totally unfair to criticise Hartlepool on the basis of one visit.
“I moved here last year because of work and I really like it. There’s lots going on if you know where to look, the people are friendly and the place that I’m living is quiet and people look out for each other.
“It’s far better than the place I was living before, I had to be careful going out after dark and I’ve never felt like that in Hartlepool.”
Norma Brown, 61, a volunteer charity worker from Windermere Road in Hartlepool, said: “There are lots of positive things going on in Hartlepool.
“In Belle Vue the new houses that they’ve built have really lifted the area. My brother lives in Maidenhead and every time he visits, he comments on the changes for the better.
“Small towns are friendly and have strong communities. I live on Windermere Road and my daughter lives on Bowness Road, and there’s a great community spirit around us.
“You get out what you put in. I worked on a project with Hartlepool Museum remembering how communities used to pull together and they still can.”
Sarah Lester, 18, a student from the Rossmere area of Hartlepool, said: “There’s no need to give Hartlepool a hard time!
“It does need a lot of improvements but everywhere has it’s bad parts if you look for them.
“There’s loads of history and heritage here that other places don’t have.
“There is a lack of opportunity for young people but that’s down to a lack of investment, people from outside think it’s bad so they don’t come here.
“There’s lots going on though like the Red Dreams charity and recording studio and the Pitch Invasion Festival.”
James Clements, 26, a teacher who is originally from the Throston area of Hartlepool, said: “We’ve got a good sense of humour in Hartlepool and we’re used to being knocked.
“Besides, Middlesbrough is worse! I live in York now and it is a big contrast, but Hartlepool has some redeeming features and it’s unfair to tar it all with the same brush based on a quick visit.
“We have been hit hard by the recession and there aren’t many job opportunities, but what’s new there?”