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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 13:55 GMT
Luton goes literary to beat image
Luton Airport
Luton Airport led to the catchphrase 'Nice 'ere, innit?'
Luton is hoping to shed its "Crap Town" label by hosting a literary competition and inviting budding authors to write a short story based in the town.

Sponsored by Luton First, a consortium including Luton Borough Council and local organisations and businesses, the aim is to find a positive image.

Anthony Edwards, of Luton First, said: "All people seem to do is look to the cosmetic veneer."

Luton First hopes people will visit and "go into the soul of the place".

Negative publicity 'does rub off'

Luton's public image received a battering last month when it was voted top of the 50 most awful places in the country.

The result was published in a book called Crap Towns II, whose author, according to Mr Edwards, admitted to him he had only stopped in Luton for a coffee.

"He only passed through, and it was all a publicity stunt - it was all very tongue in cheek, but nevertheless, this kind of thing does rub off."

Publicity for an advertising campaign starring Lorraine Chase three decades ago has also left its mark on the town, with her catchphrase, "Nice 'ere, innit?" as she sat at Luton Airport.

Luton First's book, which has the working title 'Junction 10', a reference to the M1 turnoff for the town, will publish the top 10 short stories written by aspiring novelists.

It is hoped it will be published in time for summer holiday reading.

"We will allow total freedom of style, topic, characterisation and plot with the one proviso that stories should touch on a key aspect of the town in a positive way, with particular reference to Luton as a great place to live, work, learn and have fun" said Mr Edwards.

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