Government urged to ‘abandon’ Burnley

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Community leaders have reacted angrily to claims towns like Burnley are decaying and should have no more government money spent on them.

The claims, which cited Burnley, Hull, Middlesborough and Hartlepool as examples, were made in an article in the Economist magazine. The article urged government ministers not to use tax breaks or spending money to encourage people to go the cities and towns because it diverted them from areas where “they would be more successful.”

Instead it said people should be encouraged to go out of the area to find work.

Burnley Council leader Coun. Julie Cooper said she had been irritated by the piece and the council has sent a written response to the magazine.

“It’s really unfair, the article does not give a true reflection of Burnley. I was really quite irritated by it.

“It creates a false impression of Burnley, Burnley is a town that is successfully fighting back.

“We know we have been doing a lot of good work in Burnley for some time now and the enterprise award confirms that formally, in spite of the difficult challenges that we face.”

Two months ago Burnley was named the most enterprising town for its pioneering culture and economic prospects.

Coun. Cooper said it was wrong to put Burnley in the same category as other towns with which it has nothing in common.

“I think we’ve shed this image of a grim, struggling northern mill town.”

The article stated: “Despite dollops of public money and years of heroic effort, a string of towns and smallish cities in Britain’s former industrial heartlands are quietly decaying.

“Middlesbrough, Burnley, Hartlepool, Hull and many others were in trouble even before the financial crisis.”

It said: “That so many well intentioned people are trying so hard to save them suggests how much affection they claim.

“But these kindly efforts are misguided, governments should not try to rescue failing towns. Instead they should support the people who live in them.

“That means helping them to commute or move to places where there are jobs – and giving them the skills to get those jobs.”

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