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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Hull fights to defend its image
By Mark McGregor
BBC News Online, Yorkshire

Hull Marina
The marina is one of Hull's top tourist attractions
It boasts top tourist attractions, a state-of-the-art stadium and a picturesque marina, so why is Hull one of the favourites to be named as Britain's worst place to live?

Residents of the city appear to have been voting in their hundreds to make sure Hull tops a poll of places people are desperate to avoid calling their home.

It would seem to be a slap in the face for an area that was recently voted as one of the UK's best cities to visit, ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Leeds and London.

City marketing chiefs do not believe the survey, which is the basis of a forthcoming book entitled "Crap Towns - the 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK" - is an accurate reflection of opinion of their city.

Visitors placed us alongside London, Liverpool and Manchester - all thriving European cities and we're up there with them
Emma Pearson-Kendall, Hull City Image
But disparaging remarks about its people, architecture and even aroma continue to pour in to a website compiling the comments for inclusion in the text.

Contributors to the book claim Hull's "silent threat of violence", its "boring landscape" and, bizarrely, "the smell of the chocolate factory" are reasons for slating the city.

Publisher Boxtree is staying tight-lipped on which area will be named the most hated in Britain before its release in October.

But the book's editors admit they will "be surprised if it isn't Hull".

A spokeswoman for the company told BBC News Online: "It is fair to say Hull is definitely in the top ten because of the overwhelming response from its dwellers.

She added: "It is people with serious gripes we are talking about."

The Deep
The Deep has attracted more than one million visitors
Although Boxtree insist all the submissions are from people who have lived and worked in Hull, city marketing chiefs are taking the results with a pinch of salt.

Emma Pearson-Kendall, of Hull City Image, told BBC News Online: "Because the poll is not very scientific its difficult to see where these people come from and where they live now.

"We found that people were talking about the city as it was - a lot of them seemed to be people who lived in the city a long time ago.

"The reality now is very different."

Those who consider Hull their home are less restrained in dismissing the attack on their city.

Good things about Hull...
KC Stadium
The Deep
Old, distinctive phone boxes
The Humber Bridge
The Waterfront
One Hull native told BBC News Online: "I think it's a very unjust reputation and most people who say these things have never even been here."

Millions of pounds have been invested in Hull over the past ten years and the council is expecting a further 1bn investment over the next decade.

The city points to landmarks such as the KC Stadium (home to the city's football and rugby teams and the occasional Elton John concert), the Marina and aquatic tourist attraction The Deep as evidence of the city's development.

Ms Pearson-Kendall says Hull is now a choice location for people to work, live and study in - as well as proving a hit amongst tourists.

'Lots to offer'

In a recent survey conducted by the Guardian and Observer, Hull was named as one of the top 15 city destinations in the UK.

She added: "Things like this book actually really help in that people come and see for themselves.

"Visitors placed us alongside London, Liverpool and Manchester - all thriving European cities and we're up there with them.

"Hundreds of thousands of visitors, investors in the city, students who study here and the people who live and work here can't all be wrong.

"We are not saying the city doesn't have any problem issues - but what city doesn't?"

Elton on his way to Hull
06 May 03  |  Humber

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