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Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 17:58 GMT
Bitter row over sweet shop boss
Thorntons' chocolates
Vandals smashed the shop window before the store opened
The manager of a chocolate shop has been forced to leave a Cumbrian town after he outraged locals by branding it rough and boring in an online diary.

Steve Beall, 20, moved from his Tyneside home to run the new cafe in Thorntons in Barrow-in-Furness.

However, his comments about the town on a weblog so annoyed local residents they descended on the shop and the police had to be called.

He has now left his post and the head of the chocolate firm has apologised.

Mr Beall, who lived in Whitley Bay, was put up in a Travelodge while he helped start up the new shop.

However, when vandals smashed the shop window before it even opened he vented his frustration on MySpace.

He said the town was rough and boring, and had no idea how people could bear to live in it.

Barrow facts
Cumbria's largest town
Population of over 50,000
Centre of excellence for nuclear submarines
Home to the ruins of a large Cistercian Abbey

When the comments were printed in a local paper, residents visited the shop and invited him to go elsewhere.

Mr Beall has now left the town, and Thorntons has apologised to its residents.

Mike Davies, chief executive, said: "On behalf of Thorntons, I would like to apologise for the disparaging comments made by one of our employees about the town of Barrow-in-Furness.

"These comments do not reflect the company's views or those of its other employees."

Councillor Terry Waiting, leader of Barrow Council's Labour group said that Barrow was a very friendly place.

"It's a town that's like a big village, everyone knows everyone else.

"There's also a great location near the sea and the Lake District. It's the best place God made."

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