A think tank set up by Northumberland County Council to consider the impact of poor people on Berwick’s tourism industry has concluded that there are simply too many and recommends a cull.
Chairman of the Berwick Institute for Thinking, Dr Chris Hardie, admits that the findings may prove unpopular but said that they are absolutely based on scientific fact and not a desire to sweep fat and badly dressed people off the town’s historic cobbles.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, he said, “Look, we all love poor people. That’s not the issue. The issue is that they spread diseases such as dyslexia, obesity and laziness. Laboratory tests have shown that these can cross species, potentially infecting the young, the infirm and BBC Three viewers.”
A council representative defended the findings: “Until this issue is addressed, we have no way of tempting tourists up from Alnwick. It’s a sad fact of life that hi-vis jackets and quilted work shirts flailing on a rain-drenched market stall next to a stinking burger van are no longer the draw to tourists they once were.”
The Berwick Institute for Thinking has suggested a cull of up to 60% of the town’s Job Seeker’s Allowance claimants to bring the current transmission rate down in line with national levels, but Northumberland County Council has been quick to assure the public that they would only take out the weak and those who are visually distressing. “We’re not looking to kill healthy and attractive poor people who have something to offer the means of production,” a spokesperson confirmed. “We need someone to sweep the streets after all. But have you seen some of these munters? No one wants to look at that when they’re trying to enjoy a romantic weekend break away.”
Part-time batik artist Claire Strong of Castle Terrace is in favour of a cull: “Poor people may be adorably cuddly and look great on humorous fridge magnets eating kebabs, but the fact is they don’t understand the need for gingham bunting and water glasses made from recycled bottles. When was the last time you saw a person on low income on the paleo diet or wearing a flat cap ironically? Exactly.”
Police have cautiously welcomed the proposal. Superintendent Jim Clarkson said: “I know the overenthusiastic crowd management of Ian Tomlinson raised a few eyebrows at the time, but I think we’re now all in agreement that it was an effective use of resources.” He went on to say, “No one likes the idea of murder but then no one likes the idea of Doc Martin and that got six series.”
However, not everyone is in favour of a cull. Professor Ed Swales, erstwhile Chairman of the British Institute for Thinking, declared: “This has nothing to do with reducing infection and everything to do with promoting Home Bargains’ monopoly of the High Street. When knock-off shampoo, four-for-three Mr Muscle, and chocolate bars the size of scaffolding planks are placed in a traditional retail setting, it suddenly becomes acceptable for the middle-class to buy them. Place them under a flapping tongue of dank canvas and, no — then it’s all about brioche in wicker baskets and hand-painted tea-light holders. That cow Mary Portas has got a lot to answer for.”
Professional Guardian reader, Genevieve Fitzroy, agrees: “This is yet another attack on the indigenous population of Berwick. People on limited incomes have lived here since Anglo-Saxon times; this is their natural habitat. Conflict has only arisen since middle managers from the South have encroached on their territory and started having thought showers all over it. Where once there were flourishing lard shops and galleries doing a vibrant trade in painted wall plates, now there’s nothing but fields of alfalfa. And I like alfalfa, but you can have too much of a good thing.”
Poverty expert, Jonty Hardcastle, explained: “Poor people are often too busy scraping together money for food and heating to focus their mind on the really important things. This is why you rarely see a health spa on a council estate. QED.”
According to new data, tourists are reluctant to visit places where the reality of life is likely to impinge on them having a good time.
Holidaymaker and creative executive, Zac Richardson, said: “I came to get shit-faced somewhere of architectural interest yet still off the beaten track. I’d just downed my fifth pint of real ale and polished off a bowl of olives when a stranger in a pair of Nike Air Max smiled at me. It was obvious he wanted to touch me inappropriately, possibly involving my bottom. Come to think of it, he did look a bit like my old house master, only younger. But anyway, next time I’ll be going to Leighton Buzzard.”
When confronted with the information that they may be killed in order to encourage a café culture and Roy Chubby Brown to stay away, many poor people were phlegmatic.
“You can’t blame them really,” said Jonno ‘The Fist’ Jenkins, a care worker from Spittal. “Who wants their loved ones being manhandled by someone who never watches subtitled films or joins the PTA? I mean, really?”
Ann Wheeler, paraplegic and disabled rights campaigner, was equally unperturbed. “To be honest, I’m looking forward to it. Those cobbles have taken the fight out of me. Let the tourists break their own bloody necks on them. I’m knackered.”
“My family has had a good innings,” said fifth-generation petty thief, Shanice O’Dowd. “It will be nice to give something back for a change.”
When asked what stance The Berwick Advertiser would be taking on the issue of culling, editor Phil Johnson looked perplexed. “Has this anything to do with parking?” he said.
One thing remains unclear — while a cull does seem inevitable, the method of dispatch is still open to debate. Local historian and battle reenactor, James Herbert, may have the solution.
“Trebuchets are not only beautiful in terms of design and engineering, they’re also very popular with tourists. Perhaps we could combine the cull with a music festival and catapult poor people over the ramparts in a burst of fireworks rigged to go off in time to Bellowhead. That’ll bring the punters in.”