The failure of Berwick Town Team to make a significant dent in the £200,000 earmarked to restore the town’s ailing fortunes can be put down to the male reluctance to buy anything new if there’s an outside chance that duct tape can fix it, it has emerged.
In a move that some observers have described as “effective de-balling”, Northumberland County Council has stood down the predominately male Town Team after it only managed to spend a fraction of the Portas money and with little or no evidence of gay abandon.
“This isn’t something we wanted to do,” said shoe collector and Head of Council Profligacy, Pam Ewing. “But it became clear within a matter of weeks that the Portas team lack the expertise to impulse buy something the town already has, only in a slightly different shade.”
Ms Ewing’s comments join a rising groundswell of opinion that Berwick has been prevented from becoming a thriving hub of tourism owing to male parsimony in the face of releasing funds for anything other than a Haynes manual or a poster of sexy Avenger, the Black Widow, looking available.
“I think it’s fair to say that the wants and needs of women visiting the area have been overlooked,” Ms Ewing said. “There’s a macho culture pervading the Town Team; they seem to think, ‘Oh, we’ve got a Greggs. Sorted.'”
Economist Cliff Barnes, author of bestselling Let Women Tidy Up the Mess — Oestrogen & the Economy, believes this oversight could prove a grave mistake.
“While gaffer tape is marvellous for patching up headlights and reattaching car aerials, it’s less efficacious at mending the economy. If we look back through history all significant retail booms have been driven by women. Since the late 18th century, women have frittered away millions on souvenir teapots, thimbles and china cats as a means of bolstering their self-esteem against the more pert breasts and firmer buttocks of their peers.”
Mr Barnes continued: “Similarly, with today’s society insisting that all ugly women must have cosmetic surgery or stay indoors, there is now more than ever a need for women to buy whimsical signs reminding them that fridge pickers wear big knickers. Not only do these help to fill the gaping chasm of hopelessness dwelling within every female soul, they’re also money for old rope. Kerrr-ching.’
But Berwick Town Team refutes accusations from shabby-chic activists that they are deliberately ignoring female input during the decision-making process.
“Listen, treacle,” said Town Team newcomer Malcolm Reid. “It’s not as if we’ve been spending our time dreaming of Scarlett Johansson squatting provocatively over an Imperial Death Star Owner’s Workshop Manual. No. The fact is PlayStation 4 isn’t out til November, proving that investment of this magnitude just can’t be rushed.”
Tractor mechanic Ray Krebbs supports the work of the beleaguered team. “I think they’re doing a terrific job. Berwick now runs boat trips and boasts a coach park — nothing says top tourist destination better than the smell of diesel.”
And ditch digger Clayton Farlow is equally enthusiastic: “They’ve extended the charter market to make room for some fluorescent work gear; before there were only three stalls selling that and I was struggling to find anything I liked.”
When challenged to name a project that considered the massive spending power of women, Reid thought for a moment. “That pop-up shop thingy, Serendipity,” he said at length. “Dunno what goes on in there. Lesbianism, probably. Mmmmm.”
While male residents and tourists alike have universally hailed further Portas team initiatives such as improved signage and the town trail as great successes, kitten assessor Kristin Shepard is unimpressed.
“So what?” she said. “When I need directions I just ask.”
In the meantime, Berwick Town Council is eager to start splashing the cash instead, Mayor Isabel Hunter optimistic that they can burn their way through the remaining £150,000 in time for Christmas.
“It’s not rocket science, is it?” she said. “Berwick needs people to start spending and we intend to lead by example. Over the next few weeks residents should watch out for things that they think are new, but are in fact something the town ‘has had for ages’.”
“And should anything we buy prove to be money pissed up the wall, we’ll just leave it in the bottom of the wardrobe along with Spittal Splash Park.”