A NORTH council leader was facing an angry backlash in his hometown last night after describing it as “a dump”.
Coun Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council, was at the centre of an outcry in Blyth after saying he travels to Cramlington to shop because his town is “a dump”.
He faced an angry reaction with calls for him to apologise to the town’s people and to consider whether he can continue to represent them.
Coun Reid admitted his comments had been a “mistake” and said he had been trying to explain the difficulties his community is facing.
The Liberal Democrat, who represents Blyth’s Plessey ward, was speaking at a meeting of Hexham Business Forum.
He said: “I live in Blyth and Blyth is a dump so I usually get in the car and go to Cramlington to shop.”
His comments have angered Blyth Valley Labour MP Ronnie Campbell, whom Coun Reid has failed to depose at the last three general elections, as well as Grant Davey, party leader on the county council and fellow Blyth councillor. Mr Campbell said: “Jeff Reid has a nerve. He’s having a go at his own town and talking it down.
“He’s hammering the hard-working people who are striving to make a go of their businesses and he’s conveniently forgetting his five years as leader of the council which has neglected Blyth.
“He needs to apologise immediately and unreservedly and he needs to consider whether he’s the best person to represent a place he’s described as a ‘dump’.”
Coun Davey added: “Coun Reid has disrespected the people who put him in County Hall.
“He’s given a big thumbs down to the traders and residents who are trying so hard to breathe life back into Blyth and he needs to apologise.
“He’s gone up to Hexham to bad mouth Blyth which is a pretty despicable thing to do.”
Peter Dodds, a director at Woodcocks curtain shop in the town – which closed for good last night, said: “It certainly is not helpful for Blyth. It seems incredible that the leader of the county council who represents a Blyth ward would say something like that.”
Coun Reid last night said he had been trying to explain to the meeting the difficulties facing Blyth and had condensed that into “it is a dump”.
He said: “I do not often make mistakes but this is a mistake that I have made. I was born here I belong here, I doubt I am going to live anywhere else.
“I love the place, it is my hometown. Do I regret saying it? Absolutely. I totally accept that what I said was wrong.”
He also hit back at his rival politicians, saying Labour had spent “35 years destroying the economic heart of Blyth”.