Economist journalist defends damning article on Hartlepool – but admits only paying a ‘flying visit’ to the town

'UGLY' ATTACK: The offending article
'UGLY' ATTACK: The offending article

AN Oxford University graduate who wrote a damning article in an international publication describing Hartlepool as “failing”, “ugly” and with “appalling schools” has defended his piece on the town.

But Daniel Knowles, who works for politics and business magazine The Economist, has admitted that he should have come to an organisation like the Mail for help researching the peice.

He also declined an offer of a full tour “any time soon”.

The 25 year old travelled up to Hartlepool from his base in London and spent just a day in the town before penning his piece – which was printed in the national publication and seen around the world on the internet.

In the article which was based on him seeing Hartlepool train station, Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, Anchor Retail Park, the Marina, and some housing south of the Marina, Daniel, who has been a journalist for three years since leaving Oxford, brands the town as “typical of Britain’s rust belt”.

And he infers that Hartlepool folk should simply give up, “shrinking their boundaries and ambitions”.

A separate comment piece to accompany Daniel’s article, which was written by a senior colleague of his who “won’t be willing to be quoted or anything”, suggests the Government should turn its back on Hartlepool and instead help people to move away from 
the town or help with transport to places where there are jobs.

Daniel – who grew up in Moseley, an affluent suburb of Birmingham which also suffers some deprivation – told the Mail: “Hartlepool was a natural choice for a place to visit to find somewhere that was struggling.

“It was a bit of a flying visit because the piece covered three towns, not just one. I didn’t get quite everywhere.

“However, the point we were making in the article is that it’s hard to get away from and avoid the fact that Hartlepool has the worst working households rate in the country, slow jobs growth and real unemployment problems.

“I admit every town has its good and bad points and there’s no area that’s completely and utterly grim. This isn’t a question of whether a town is nice or nasty, it’s a question of economic success.”

Daniel also defended his publication’s stance that the Government should basically leave Hartlepool to rot, saying: “I think it’s correct to say that”.

Instead he believes Poolies should be given help to move or commute to places like London “which is able to provide people with jobs”.

Daniel, who describes himself on his Twitter page as a “yuppie”, said: “It is a 
controversial argument I admit.”

Responding to an invite by the Mail to return to see the town properly, he added: “I don’t think it will be any time soon, but possibly I will be back in Teesside and I would appreciate that.

“It’s my fault I should have come to you [the Hartlepool Mail] directly, as I did speak with other local papers in the other towns in the piece.”