Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Town Cleans Up Its Image

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Town Cleans Up Its Image

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Taylor

Bright future for notorious drugs capital

Once it was dubbed Britain's worst town and was notorious for being the region's drugs capital.

But the Northumberland port of Blyth is bouncing back and shaking off the image that haunted it in the mid-1990s.

Drug pushers are being chased off the streets and new life is being breathed into its quayside and town centre with regeneration cash.

The town still has a heroin problem but civic leaders regard it as no greater a drugs problem than other big urban population centres.

And they point out that the town, chosen as the base for the first experimental offshore wind turbine farm, is much more likely to be spoken of as a trailblazer in new areas of industry than one languishing in the doldrums.

Blyth Valley Council is so confident of the shape of things to come for Blyth it has launched a wide ranging consultation process on its future and how it is to become modern and vibrant.

Council leader Dave Stephens said: "In the mid-1990s we were in the bottom of the trough. We were still suffering from the effects of pit closures, high unemployment and the textile industry decline.

"Since then I think the whole of Blyth Valley has turned a corner. Attitudes have changed and people are more positive.

"We have projects such as the Blyth Quayside coming off. Because people have seen the success they realise there is a future for the area.

"There has been investment in industrial estates in Cramlington and new housing built. Blyth has been rejuvenated and we are looking for more investment in the town and the riverside industrial park.

"The new renewable energy centre is a national centre of excellence and Blyth is being held up as an example of what can be achieved on the renewable energy side.

"I'm not going to pretend the drugs problem in Blyth has been solved. There is still a problem of drug abuse but that is no different to the drug problems in any other part of the country. …

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