Ulica Piotrkowska, Lodz: photo - wikicommons/wurzeller
“Today I am sending the editor-in-chief of The Sun a letter inviting him to see with his own eyes how much his subordinate was mistaken as to the actual quality of our beloved city,” Mayor Hanna Zdanowska said on Monday after the Sunday edition of the tabloid wrote an extensive article detailing what they claim is the decline of the once prosperous industrial city.
The mayor added that she has instructed lawyers at the Town Hall to look at possibilities of taking action against the Murdoch-owned newspaper for misrepresenting the city and harming its image abroad.
She has also asked the Polish Foreign Ministry to intervene.
“Derelict buildings, boarded-up businesses, crumbling masonry - the poor and elderly getting in line to buy bread,” is the grim picture painted by the British tabloid under the headline: “The Polish city that’s moved to Britain.”
When the UK and Ireland opened their labour markets to new EU members in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Poles and other central and eastern Europeans rushed to take up the opportunity to work and live abroad.
The Sun, however, says that this migration has led to the decline of cities such as Lodz – once a centre of the textile industry in Poland and known as the “Polish Manchester”.
As Sun journalist Graeme Culliford claims, Poland’s third largest city is now witnessing its decline and fall, backing his claims with photographs of grim and desolate cityscapes and alcoholics standing idle on street corners.
“On Piotrkowska Street, which at three miles long is one of the longest high streets in the world, the cobbled thoroughfare is empty even in the middle of the day,” the journalist writes.
The best selling newspaper in the UK goes on to claim that the city is suffering from a wave of westbound economic migrants, allegedly “a more destructive threat” than Nazi occupation during World War II.
“Half the adult population has left the city,” one Lodz inhabitant tells the tabloid.
“They are in Scotland, London and Bournemouth, where they have a beautiful flat, a nice TV, a car — things we cannot have here,” says a Lodz-based job centre employee.
“Nine years after it joined the European Union, Poland is facing a national crisis compounded by its people’s determination to find a better life beyond its borders,” the article concludes.
According to Mayor Zdanowska, however, the journalist who wrote the report "has no idea what he is writing about," and "shows Lodz in a very biased way" as part of a long-held editorial stance against immigration to the UK.
Of the claim that employers find it hard to hire IT specialists in the city, Mayor Zdanowska pointed out at a press conference on Monday that companies such as “Hewlett-Packard and Samsung have moved from other countries, including England, to Lodz”.
The Polish Embassy in London has responded rather coolly to the article.
“[We] may address the issue with the Sun, if the information contained in the article proves inaccurate,” spokesperson for the Polish Embassy to Britain Robert Szaniawski has told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
“It’s not particularly difficult to take photos of drunks and boarded-up retail shops in England either,” the spokesperson noted. (pg/aba)
See The Sun article here.