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Shadow Minister slams Benefits Street

Shadow Minister slams Channel 4 and Love Productions over filming of Benefits Street series in Stockton on Tees

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Helen Goodman MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture was in Stockton on Tees recently to see the excellent work being done at Preston Hall Museum, which has an interesting collection and lots of diverse activities from a blacksmithy to art history, and the first rate arts centre the Arc, providing live performances including comedy and dance.

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She took time out of her schedule to meet with me to talk about news that the next series of Channel 4’s Benefits Street is currently being filmed in the town by Love Productions.

Helen said to me that

“A lot of good things are happening in Stockton at Preston Hall and the Arc, so why does Channel 4 persist in perpetuating these dreary negative stereotypes? Benefits Street is not a serious documentary and serves only to make entertainment out of poverty and hardship. Will Channel 4 also screen six hours on Stockton's positive cultural life? I think their actions bring into question whether their output is balanced or fair."

I told her that I had led a successful campaign in August 2013 to keep Stockton out of the Crap Towns Returns book after it was short-listed for inclusion by the authors. I said that people in Stockton deserve better. The town was Britain in Bloom Gold medal winner last year, our great community spirit was shown in Ashley Banjo’s Big Town Dance and it was ranked the 6th best place to live in the country only this month. Everyone is working really hard to promote the town and all it has to offer, particularly to inward investors who could bring vital jobs to the area. There is real anger that once again we have a fight on our hands to defend our good name.

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