HARTLEPOOL’S MP has defended the town following another stinging attack on the North-East in an upmarket national newspaper.
Columnist Andy Beckett wrote an article for The Guardian newspaper in which he questions whether the North-East can avoid becoming “Britain’s Detroit” – the run down American city which was once a successful car manufacturing heartland.
He also makes reference to The Economist’s article from October last year which sparked controversy when it branded Hartlepool and Middlesbrough as “part of ‘Britain’s rust belt’ and that ‘despite dollops of public money and years of heroic effort these former industrial heartlands are quietly decaying’.”
Mr Beckett also quotes Alex Niven, a writer from Northumberland, who says: “If things carry on as they are now, in five years the situation will get somewhere like Detroit.”
But today, town MP Iain Wright branded the article “rubbish” and “ill-informed”.
He said: “This is yet another example of lazy journalism. Like the insulting Economist article about Hartlepool, this was a clichéd “it’s grim up north” article written before the journalist had even left their desk in the south.
“The article talks about the North-East becoming England’s Detroit. The irony of this is that Detroit’s economy was built on the car industry, but couldn’t adapt.
“The North-East has Nissan, the most productive and efficient car plant in all Europe, making more cars than all of the Italian car industry put together and exporting all around the world.
“This is a real North-East success story, but why isn’t it mentioned at all in the article?”
He added: “I’m not suggesting Hartlepool and the North-East don’t have significant challenges to address.
“To say Hartlepool and the North-East are basket cases in terminal decline is just plain stupid and wrong. Given the region’s strengths in high value manufacturing, and energy production and distribution, the North-East and Hartlepool will play a leading role in the future economy, if we have the tools for the job, government support and greater independence from Whitehall.
“Rubbish, ill-informed articles like this and the Economist make the task of selling Hartlepool and the North-East to potential investors that bit more difficult, but it also makes me more determined than ever to overcome such journalism and make sure Hartlepool and the North-East can fulfil its great potential.”