"Barrow-in-Furness is a shithole"

For any of my fellow Cumbrians reading I’d like to reassure you that no I haven’t gone mad and that this isn’t my opinion but of Steve Beall, who was the manager of Thorntons in Barrow – until he made the comment on his MySpace blog.

Another great example of how even personal employee blogs can have an impact on your corporate reputation. The Thorntons shop in Barrow was besieged by angry Cumbrians and the staff had to call the police for protection. It’s a good lesson to business that even if they don’t seek to actively engage with social media they still need to incorporate it into their corporate communications strategies.

Free chocolates

Mike Davies, Thorntons’ chief executive, issued a statement: ‘I would like to apologise for the disparaging comments made by one of our employees about the town. These comments do not reflect the company’s views or those of its other employees.’

He went on to say that ‘Thorntons greatly appreciated the warm welcome it has received from the people of Barrow since its store opened on December 8 and hopes to become an active participant in the local community. As a gesture of goodwill, anybody visiting our store until Christmas will receive a free chocolate.’

via Drew B from The Times

 


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • tim hoang

    What worries me is that people are placing too much credit to comments on sites like MySpace. Hell, who doesn't hate the place they live in to some extent?

    If companies seek to manage comments on sites such as MySpace, then it will be just like another advertising medium and staff will just find somewhere else to voice their thoughts.

    I can't believe staff needed protection! who would actually seek to physically harm someone because of a passive comment on his
    personal space?

    Also congrats to Anne Gregory – i studied under her at Leeds and she was fantastic

  • http://www.pr-consultant.co.uk/blog Stephen Newton

    Tim's spot on. We should be more concerned for poor old Steve Beall who's been forced out of his job just before Christmas.

    Whitley Bay probably isn't much better, but at least he had Newcastle on his doorstep.

    What 20 year-old wouldn't feel gutted at being sent out to one of the UK's drabbest places? All you can say in Cumbria's defence is that it's okay to visit when the sun's shining or if you want to cut yourself off for a short time in an isolated cottage.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/Jeremycj/ Jeremy Jacobs

    B in F maybe a sh**hole but my hometown is probably the failure capital of the UK.

    Margate was once a half-decent seaside resort. Now it just has flats going up everywhere and hotels coming down.

  • http://www.3ca.blogs.com Stuart Jones

    I have added Stuart's post to my blog (with suitable local comments) http://3ca.blogs.com/my_weblog/2006/12/barrow_in_furne.html

    I have two comments to make:

    1. Barrow is pronounced Barrer round here; and
    2. Where the hell is the Barrer sense of humour?

  • shithole

    ******* cumbs! YOU TOWN IS A SHITHOLE. and a person is allowed in this democracy to have an opinion! in this CASE the guy didnt like the town like myself and has a right to say what he thinks of it.

    so **** you all the guy already lost his job because of you northern *****.

    **** YOUR TOWN, **** CHOCOLATE AND MOST OF ALL ****…..

    COMMENT EDITED TO REMOVE MOST OF THE MOST OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE

  • R J Farman

    Having stayed in a Travelodge on a few occasions in my previous job, I have some sympathy for anyone that spends one night in one, let alone more.

    However, on 2 August 2002, Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council became notorious as having caused the worst outbreak of Legionnaires' disease ever in the country, when 7 people died and 140 became chronically ill, many seriously. The judge said he would have fined a company £1,000,000, but reduced it to one eight, £125,000 as the Council Taxpayers would foot the bill.

    He fined a council architect, Gillian Beckingham, who deliberately excluded the statutory testing for Legionnaires' disease from a maintenace contract, £15,000; a mere £100 per head for each person killed or injured. At her trial, she said she had had no Health & Safety training, but the Royal Institute of British Architects say it does include that training for its members. How truthful was her answer to her defence lawyer who asked her about Health and Safety training? What does it say about our judiciary that it will fine the private sector 8 times as much as the public sector?

    Gillian Beckingham is still employed by the Council as is the Chief Executive, Tom Campbell, who had a major input to the maintenance budget; presumably, neither offered to resign. What does this say about Barrow-in-Furness Council officials, councillors and, indeed, the townspeople themselves?

  • Suze

    I have recently tried to live there and have to agree with Steve that it is the most godforsaken dump that human beings ever had the misfortune to find themselves living in – (and who wouldn't be angry at having their shop window put in before even having a chance to open it?) In the town there are no jobs whatsoever, every other shop is boarded up with ripped curtains hanging down (this is the sight that first greets you when you come into the town centre by the way!), terrible violence and drug/alcohol abuse,everybody looks really miserable shuffling around in tracksuit bottoms, nothing to do day or night (shall I go on?)….there should be a huge sign at the end of the A590 that takes you there 'TOWN CLOSED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST'. I couldn't wait to leave!!

  • H Beach

    I live in Barrow in Furness and stumbled across this enlightening exchange of words by accident. The Thorntons Mangaer has not lost his job but been transferred back to Whitley Bay – which I am sure he is very happy about. I have lived in Barrow for 40 years and yes there are faults with it (who can actually say that everything in their home town/city is perfect) but I wouldn't choose to live anywhere else. As for R J Farman's comments I cannot imagine which way she came into Barrow in Furness as this is not the sight that greets you when you arrive and there are very few boarded up shops. As for miserable shuffling around and no jobs – I really think you must be talking about the wrong town, it's certainly not this one.

  • Black

    I lived in Barrow for over 20years, and I have some sympathy for visitors to the town. The town's problems are visible and well known, but they are a symptom of Barrow Borough Council's mis-management and BAE Systems employee redundancies over the past 10 years. Barrow people, on the whole, are a good bunch who put up with poor quality services, bad investment and shoddy management. The town is improving but we still have a long way to go. The aspects that visitors experience do not give Barrow the appeal that it maybe could have. Traffic and parking in particular are terrible; we have many, many parking wardens who slap fines on without consideration. The roads are only slightly better than dirt tracks (Abbey Road, Risedale Road, Bussleuch Street, Ainslie Street, etc.); with the addition of sleeping policemen to almost every major road. Also the waste management – Barrow has a serious dog waste and household rubbish problem (it's very windy), particularly around the town's more scenic areas. West Shore Beach has waste strewn all over it (and people let their dogs foul everywhere) and yet it's one of the most beautiful beaches in Cumbria. Finally Barrow's major industries should take a bigger share of making Barrow better, BAE, Kimberley Clarke, Capita, etc. should do more to maintain green areas.
    I think Barrow has potential but it will never improve without a major shake up of local servies and the way money is spent. I'm confident that left as it is – it could decline into the worst plae to live in the Country.

  • http://forum28.com/ forum 28

    Like all towns barrow has its good points and bad points, im still trying to figure out the good points after living here 30 years

  • S Goodburn

    I have lived in Barrow nearly all my life. I was born here and proud of it. The times l lived away because of my Fathers work was awful and we where always glad to return to the town with the frendliest people in England.I married and went to live in Nottingham, it was not a friendly place, if you said good morning to a stranger in the street you where looked at as though you where mad, here we greet everyone with an hello or good morning. If it is such a bad place how come we are getting the influx of people from the South, buying houses here to retire to because the cost of living is lower and we are by the sea? I get sick of hearing people moaning about living in Barrow and cannot understand why if they do not like it why not go back home.We built the best ships in the world when we had P&O contracts and designed and built the Orsova, which is still running the design now on the new ship,we now build the best submarines and are world renowned for our men, and womens, workmanship.We are proud to be Barrovians and if you do not like us then tough because we will always defend our town.

  • Suze

    Oh – that's the other thing I forgot to mention – the people who live there are none too bright!!!

  • http://www.3ca.blogs.com/ Stuart Jones

    I have added Stuart's post to my blog (with suitable local comments) http://3ca.blogs.com/my_weblog/2006/12/barrow_in_furne.html

    I have two comments to make:

    1. Barrow is pronounced Barrer round here; and

    2. Where the hell is the Barrer sense of humour?