Middlesbrough council slammed for banners celebrating junk food dish

Middlesbrough council is slammed for spending £13,000 putting up banners celebrating ‘monstrous’ 2,000-calorie junk food dish in town where almost a quarter of Year 6 children are classified as obese

  • Town is famed for its 2,000-calorie deep-fried dish of chicken and cheese sauce 
  • Council put up large banners around the town saying: ‘We are parmo and chips’  
  • Cllr said they are ‘insulting and insulting and reduce the town to stereotypes’

Middlesbrough council has been slammed for spending £13,000 on banners celebrating a ‘monstrous’ 2,000-calorie junk food dish. 

The town, which has the highest number of obese children starting school compared to any other local authority in England, is famed for its dish of ‘parmo and chips’.  

However the council was accused of ‘reducing the town to cheap stereotypes’ with some of its messaging which included banners saying: ‘We are parmo and chips.’ 

The Teesside Parmo, described as ‘monstrous’ by the National Obesity Forum, is a deep-fried delicacy which consists of chicken lathered in a creamy cheese sauce and covered in mounds of cheese that can contain up to 2,000 calories. 

Middlesbrough council was accused of ‘reducing the town to cheap stereotypes’ with some of its messaging which included banners saying: ‘We are parmo and chips’

Just under a third of the town’s children are obese by the time they start school at the age of four – the highest number of obese children of the same age anywhere in England.   

Councillor Matt Storey, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: ‘These banners are insulting and reduce Middlesbrough to cheap stereotypes.

‘I love living and working in this town and there is far more to Middlesbrough than parmos and clichès.

‘What must investors and people looking to move here think when they see these banners? What sort of message does it send to them? Are we serious about presenting ourselves as an amazing place to visit, live and work?

The town, which has the highest number of obese children starting school compared to any other local authority in England, is famed for the dish 

‘This suggests we are not. We can do better and if we are looking at fortnightly bin collections next year and other tough financial choices to come we should use taxpayers money much more wisely than this.’

Other banners used in the campaign utilised local slang, saying: ‘We are proper class,’ ‘We are mint’ and ‘We are, like.’

The promotional signs have been erected on lampposts near the Town Hall and on the approach to Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium.

Mayor Andy Preston said: ‘The messages on most of the banners are great – but two or three of them are ill-conceived and need taking down.

‘The banners weren’t brought to my attention until the last 24 hours – but I absolutely agree a small number aren’t appropriate and I’ve already asked for them to be removed as soon as possible.’

The Teesside Parmo, described as ‘monstrous’ by the National Obesity Forum, is a deep-fried delicacy which consists of chicken lathered in a creamy cheese sauce and covered in mounds of cheese that can contain up to 2,000 calories

Most of the 141 banners have slogans with inspirational messages such as: ‘We are Driven’, ‘We are Determined’ and ‘We are Open’.

Andrew Glover, the council’s head of marketing and communications, admitted: ‘I think there has been a mixed reaction so far.

‘Viewed in isolation, I might see why they might raise a few eyebrows but when people see the full campaign and its intention to say we’re all these things.

‘I’m proud to be born here, work here and bring up two children here and I think this campaign will really resonate with people.

‘There will be something for everyone but, as with everything, not everyone will like everything we do – I’ve seen positive and negative messages.’

He added: ‘I’m confident that the broader campaign – which will be rolled out as we go through the summer – will build local pride and get people talking as these banners have done.

Most of the 141 banners have slogans with inspirational messages such as: ‘We are Driven’, ‘We are Determined’ and ‘We are Open’

‘Hopefully, it will encourage more people to spend more time in Middlesbrough and spend more money with our brilliant businesses.’

Cllr Antony High, leader of the Middlesbrough Independent Group (MIG), believed the messages were ’embarrassing’ and signs needed to be taken down.

He said: ‘They are not ”mint” and are far from ”proper class”. They are very belittling and poor for the town.’

A Middlesbrough Council spokesman added: ‘The banners are the first glimpse of ”We are Middlesbrough” – a new campaign that will celebrate all that’s great about our town.

‘We’re going to tell the stories of our thriving businesses, community stalwarts and fearless young people.

‘We are confident there will be something for everyone, although not everyone will like everything we do.

‘The banners put up in recent weeks celebrate a wide range of local reference points, including colloquialisms, football and our proud industrial heritage.’

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