More criticism for 'patronising and misleading' Guardian article labelling North East as UK's Detroit

MPs and business leaders line up to attack national newspaper over editorial claiming region was 'teetering on the brink'

Steve Brock North East LEP chief executive Edward Twiddy speaking as Paul Woolston looks on
North East LEP chief executive Edward Twiddy

The North East has continued to defend itself amid claims its economy makes it the Detroit of the UK.

A united defence of the North East has been made after a Guardian article painted a bleak picture of the region, and said it risked the same failings which hit bankrupt Detroit as jobs disappear, even as unemployment starts to fall in the North East.

Chief executive of the North East business and council partnership Edward Twiddy has written to the Guardian to complain about the story, which he said missed out many examples of successful North East firms.

He said: “Of course the North East has its share of problems, of which perpetuated myths and under-reporting are two. (Author) Mr Beckett is not wholly to blame for the overwhelming attack that the article received on your message boards. Your picture editor should also step out a bit more, preferably facing north.”

The national newspaper also came under attack from Conservative MP Guy Opperman, who said the Detroit story was “Guardian claptrap” and accused the paper of overlooking the fact that “we are developing specific specialisms in sectors that are genuinely transforming the economy”.

Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall also hit out, saying: “The article is patronising and misleading. While the North East clearly faces some difficult challenges as we seek to rebalance the economy and recover from the recession, the idea that we’re facing some Detroit-style collapse is ridiculous.”

Sean Bullick, chief executive of business support group NE1, pointed to the multi-million pound redevelopment of Newcastle city centre and outdoor entertainment as another area the paper had overlooked, including the £20m investment in Newcastle Central Station’s redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for the Guardian last night said: “The Guardian is committed to open journalism and actively encourages debate and comment on its reporting.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer