21 August 1979
A TELEVISION documentary which painted an abysmal picture of Sunderland may discourage industrialists from moving to the town. It probably frightened off Argentinian soccer star Alex Sabella and it could spark a huge migration of youngsters.
So says Tory councillor Joseph Landau, who condemned last week’s BBC-2 Brass Tacks programme as one-sided and unbalanced.
Coun. Landau, Sunderland member, Conservative Group chairman on Tyne Wear Council and ward member on Sunderland Council said: “This is my town and it’s a fine place, with lost of good qualities.”
Despite initial revulsion, he says the episode has prompted him to look for new solutions to the town’s serious youth unemployment.
Now he’s planning to set up a working party to investigate and report on the problem, the members to be drawn jointly from the district and county councils.
He’s also appealing for practical suggestions from the public which could be considered by the group.
He said of the programme: “My first impression was that if any industrialist was contemplating a move to the area, he would have to be a very compassionate person indeed to further that interest.
“The rejection of Sunderland by Alex Sabella could have been the combination of viewing this programme and he and his wife’s conducted tour of the town on a wet, windy and miserable day.
“My biggest worry is that our own youth would see the programme and say: “There are no prospects here for us. Let’s get the hell out of Sunderland.”
“In many ways the programme was very one-sided but even if it was 95 per cent wrong, it’s the five percent that’s right about the problems that I want to attack and solve.
“To make matters worse, ITV was off the air and there was a rotten film on the other channel, so Sunderland got nationwide bad publicity.”
“Unemployment of the young is something we haven’t tackled properly and I want to get to the bottom of it.”
An official of the BBC said: “If Mr. Landau writes to us, we will, of course, consider his remarks and reply to them.
“There is also the opportunity for him and anyone else wishing to respond to the programme to have their views aired on the weekly follow-up programme to Brass Tacks.”