I came across a few people posting this article from The Economist. It’s a troll in a prestigious article’s clothing. I surmise the motivation for this piece can be pulled from this Onion piece speaking for CNN as to why they posted Miley Cyrus as a lead story.
Poking at the North or any disadvantaged place with a stick to see if it twitches is an easy way to generate page views and stir up controversy from people defensive of their home, #desolatenortheast anyone?
I found it poorly written, pointing to a lot of things and signifying nothing and as an editorial with no attribution, the author(s) take(s) no accountability. It is filled with controversy for its own sake.
I would love to hear if any of the author(s) have ever visited any of the locations they call to close for business.
The crisis of the high street is well documented and exists across the UK. (Who’s gone bust in retailing 2010-2013)
I disagree with the characterisation of building Arts and culture institutions as a poor attempt to develop failed one-trick tourism ponies. I believe those institutions were built as a beacon, to represent quality of life and the aspirations of a place to inspire confidence for inward investment, whether you believe they have not succeeded in this endeavour is a separate question.
One of the only useful recommendations in the piece is advocating for the expansion of public transport links. It is one of the only things I miss having moved from NY to Hartlepool and working in Middlesbrough. Expanding transport links and hours of operation would help make jobs viable in more areas.
Supporting the mass exodus of all fledgling businesses and going concerns to unaffordable/successful areas interferes with market forces of supply and demand and fails to acknowledge the quality of life to be found in the places cited in the article. Plus the (untapped) potential of tools available on the internet and through crowdfunding is such that people can start businesses from anywhere.
Pointing to Detroit is disingenuous. There are many different theories as to the cause for Detroit’s decline, from the impact of national policy, to an overburdened pension system, “private disinvestment, failed institutions, joblessness, high poverty and low education rates, and increasing isolation of residents, particularly the elderly,” and accusations of various political parties dependent on one’s own affiliation (15 reasons).
Some similarities exist like great need, which is set to grow, and a shrunken tax base. However, the relatively small sizes of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool (and Wolverhampton, Burnley and Hull though I have no direct experience of them other than The Housemartins – London 0 – Hull 4) can in theory make them more nimble and able to respond to new realities.
Beyond the annoyances of the original article the “controversy” has led to an article covering it in The Telegraph (with grim and in some cases out of date photos) reminiscent of the absurdity of articles covering bored journalists interviewing each other waiting for Will and Kate’s sprog to be born. [Now also picked up on MSN UK]
Places like Hartlepool and Middlesbrough do not need people to crap on them and be name-checked in articles like these. They face challenges and need advocates. They are beautiful places to live, near inspiring coast and country, with affordable real estate, short commute times, superfast broadband and award-winning places to study. They are filled with talented folks with regional accents and interesting stories to tell.
Check out the engineering and manufacturing profiled on Made in Middlesbrough, the innovators of Digital City, and the young entrepreneurs involved in The Emporium or Baker Street. Middlesbrough means business. Explore lovemiddlesbrough.com for what’s on and things to do including the Discover Middlesbrough festival which begins on Monday.
Contact Tees Valley Unlimited about major investment opportunities.
Here are some links to local photography to see alternative views of Middlesbrough and Hartlepool. If you have similar links for Wolverhampton, Burnley or Hull comment below.
Entries into the Love Where You Live competition held at mima
As for The Economist…all rise for the troll anthem…trolololololololololol
Full disclosure: I work for Middlesbrough Council. This post is in no way meant to indicate my employer’s views.