Wednesday, 17 August 2016

More on 'Brexit Street'

Westbury Street mosque

News-watch's David Keighley has turned detective and, in a brilliant piece of sleuthing (aided by quite a bit of local knowledge), he's pinned down the exact street that Radio 4's PM is using for 'Brexit Street'

He identifies it as Westbury Street.

The complaint we've all being making here about 'Brexit Street'...

...(the single unidentified street in Thornaby-on-Tees which Radio 4 is using for an entire year to represent the effects of Brexit on what it claims to be a typical Leave-voting street)... that it sounds extremely unrepresentative of Leave-voting areas - not just across the country as a whole but locally as well. 

The street - from Emma Jane Kirby's reports at least - sounds to be largely occupied by (a) people who don't work and (b) asylum seekers from beyond the EU.

Westbury Street, David writes, is just such an unrepresentative street. 

For starters, it is unusually 'down-market', even by the standards of the area. 

House prices (around £40-60K) are around half the local average. And thhe local average is even lower than the regional average (£120K). And the average in England is now around £230K, some four times higher than on 'Brexit Street'.

And as for those asylum seekers that PM is featuring so prominently (stressing their feelings of isolation - and heavily hinting at racism from the Leave-voting locals)? 

Well, Westbury Street again proves unrepresentative. As with house prices, Thornaby-on-Tees is untypical of the NE as a whole:
Further spadework reveals that Middlesbrough and Stockton town councils are the only two in the North-east which are accepting asylum seekers on a large scale. There are nearly 700 in the local government area covering Thornaby, equating to one in 280 local residents. 
That said, Westbury Street has only 120 households, and the local average house occupation rate is 2.3 – so it would be expected that only one or two residents there would be asylum seekers. Kirby, however, says there are ‘large numbers’ living there (and of course she’s interviewed many of them) – suggesting that the local council is using the street for their re-settlement because housing there is especially cheap.
Emma Jane has, so far, mentioned three separate houses containing migrants. (So there could be even more).

She's also made it clear that those houses contain groups of immigrants.

So that's going to amount to considerably more than "one or two residents" who are asylum seekers living on 'Brexit Street' (around 9-12 asylum seekers, maybe?), thus making it a particularly extreme example. 

Plus (h/t David), Westbury Street is also unusual in having a mosque (at Nos. 127-129) - a fact Emma Jane hasn't yet introduced into her Brexit Street series. 

This whole thing is shaping up into being one of the most striking piece of BBC bias for a long time - David calls it "a travesty of balanced journalism" - and there's still nearly a year of it still to come.


  1. Like thought for the day, or whatever it's called when some far left priest gets to talk for a minute about something, it's now on the turn off list.

    To be honest if only there was another talk radio news show my car radio could pick up I think id be done with Radio 4.

  2. This series is starting to remind me of that dishonest series of reports on immigration in the US done by Franz Strasser a few years back. They decide on the story they want to tell beforehand, and have the reporter go out and cherry-pick, re-frame, or just simply mislead in order to tell it.