Wednesday, 6 March 2013

People of Blyth hit back at comments made by councillor Jeff Reid

People of Blyth hit back at comments made by councillor Jeff Reid
by Kate Proctor, The Journal

Hazel Ross, owner of Dottie's Deli in Blyth
PEOPLE in a town described by a council leader as a “dump” have told of their civic pride.
Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council and representative for Blyth’s Plessey ward, provoked uproar when he criticised the town during a meeting and said he prefers to do his shopping in nearby Cramlington.
The Liberal Democrat has since apologised and has admitted his words had been a “mistake”.
But for many people who have lived in the town all their lives, Mr Reid’s comments come too late.
Mandy Lyall, who works at the Quayside Cafe on Plessey Road, said: “We’ve got a lovely quay and beach. And a lovely park and great people. He should be positive, not putting people off.”
Grandmother Dorothy Thompson, who works at Coastline Fish & Chips at South Beach, said in the summer the cafe is heaving with customers and is an example of how successful businesses in Blyth can be.
She said: “That place has expanded three times and I’ve been with it since the beginning, and it’s always busy. It’s just annoying for people who’ve lived here for ages and can see the town is dying to be re-developed to have it knocked down again by the people who should be doing the opposite.

“If people keep putting it down then that’s the reputation Blyth will get. The cafe is living proof that businesses can flourish here if people put time and money into them.”
Those with businesses at the market and at nearby shops believe efforts should be made by local authorities to lower rates and rents.
Hazel Ross, owner of Dottie’s Deli on Regent Street, said: “I think it’s a disgrace what he’s said about the town. People are dying to open businesses and get people in, and I feel he’s doing nothing to improve the market either.
“It’s gone downhill and I think they should be getting free ground rent to help out the people working there.
“We want more people in Blyth because we’re a small business and it’s hard enough. We couldn’t even get a grant to open our business in the first place.”
Co-worker Michelle Wilkins said it is Blyth’s “loyal” residents who give the town its atmosphere.
She said: “The whole community is so loyal to the town centre.”
Shopper Vivienne Frost said the decision not to replace the market with an indoor one was a mistake in efforts to boost trade.
In 2008, the then Blyth Valley Borough Council oversaw a £3m facelift of the market retaining its outdoor space with new paving, lighting and seating.
She said: “Blyth’s not a bad place to live and I’ve lived here all my life. There’s a lot of empty shops, fair enough, but those comments have everyone talking.”

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