Monday, 18 March 2013

Last night the council’s Labour group leader, Grant Davey, who represents Blyth, said: “Local people have been highly critical of Jeff Reid and he is not going to get away with this. I believe this comment could cost him his seat at the elections.”

Council leader Jeff Reid issues new apology for "Blyth is a dump" remark
by David Black, The Journal
18 March 2013
AN embattled council boss who described his home town as “a dump” has repeated his sincere apology for the gaffe – but says some people have told him he was right.
Jeff Reid, Liberal Democrat leader of Northumberland County Council, sparked an outcry two weeks ago after making his comment about Blyth during a business forum meeting in Hexham.

Coun Reid – who represents the Blyth Plessey ward – said: “I live in Blyth, and Blyth is a dump, so I usually get in the car and go to Cramlington to shop.”
He admitted the comment had been a mistake, and said he had been trying to point out the differences in the quality of the retail experience in Blyth compared to Hexham.

Coun Reid faced an angry backlash in his home town from Labour politicians, shopkeepers and local people.
Now – two weeks on from the controversy blowing up – he has repeated his “wholehearted and genuine” apology for the remark, which he admits was “disrespectful” to the town where he has lived for more than 40 years.

However, he says the furore has not caused him to consider standing down as county council leader, a post he has held for almost five years.
Coun Reid said: “I said something very stupid, but it was about the retail experience in Hexham compared to Blyth. I used the wrong set of words.
“I have not considered resigning over it because everyone makes mistakes and does things they regret.
“I believe I have had five years of virtually unblemished record in terms of public statements, and have not said anything derogatory about anyone or anything. I have tried my best to promote the whole county.”

Coun Reid said he has had a mixed reaction to his comments, with some people labelling him a disgrace and saying he should resign, but others being supportive.
“Some people have contacted me to say that what I said was right, but that I should not have said it, or not used those words. I have started every conversation by admitting I should not have said what I did, but are people not allowed to make mistakes and sometimes say the wrong things in the heat of the moment?
“People are within their rights to criticise me, but they will either accept my apology or hold it against me forever.”
Coun Reid said the Lib Dem administration at County Hall has shown its commitment to improving Blyth by helping secure the multi-million pound investment in a new Morrisons store and supporting a revamp of the bus station and library area.

“We are doing all we can to help Blyth. I said a stupid thing which I regretted the second I said it, and I don’t even believe it to be true. To anyone who was offended I can only repeat that I wholeheartedly and genuinely apologise.”
Last night the council’s Labour group leader, Grant Davey, who represents Blyth, said: “Local people have been highly critical of Jeff Reid and he is not going to get away with this. I believe this comment could cost him his seat at the elections.”

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