English Village Outraged Over Illinois Republican Ad ‘Smear’

Residents resent being the poster town for recession

A candidate for US congress has infuriated a coastal English town’s residents by using a photo of its streets to illustrate a grim alternate reality for his district if he were to lose next week’s election.

Republican Nick Stella, who’s running for Illinois’ 11th congressional district, stuck the picture labelled “Only YOU can stop this from becoming REALITY!” on Facebook, adding that a vote for the Democrats would take the country “back to foreclosures, unemployment, and economic recesson”.

To hammer home the point, he used an image of a rundown street. A street in Jaywick Sands, from Essex in the UK.

The town was revealed as the most deprived town in England in 2015, and images of the town often crop up when searching for terms like “rundown town”.

Jaywick Sands back in 2015 (Image: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)
Jaywick Sands back in 2015 (Image: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

And having worked hard to rehabilitate its image, poor old Jaywick Sands is not happy at being used as the generic craphole of choice.

"For starters, Dr. Stella is very out of date -- Essex County Council completed a two-year £6.5 million program to improve the roads and drainage in Jaywick Sands in 2017," Tendering District Council cabinet member Paul Honeywood told the BBC.

"Since the old image used in this campaign poster was taken support from government, Essex County Council and other bodies has helped to build upon the work we as a council we're already doing to improve the quality of life for residents."

He invited Stella to visit the Jaywick Sands, to see “a community that’s on the up”.

Jaywick Sands today (Image: Paul Nixon)
Jaywick Sands today (Image: Paul Nixon)

"I know that many Jaywick Sands residents will be outraged at being smeared in this way and rightly so," Mr Honeywood added.

But the Stella campaign denied that it was a smear.

"Our intent was never to smear the town in the photo, now known to us as Jaywick Sands in Essex,” said Director of Operations, Raquel Mitchell. “We never used the name.”

“For us it was an example of a town overburdened by poor governance, which is exactly what we in our district are seeking to prevent at every level.”

They have removed the post from their Facebook page, and Mitchell also said that they’d consider a future visit to Jaywick.

"I'm sure Jaywick Sands is charming. Perhaps a future visit would be a great way to exchange ideas between the two areas."

70-year-old Penelope Read, who made a documentary in 2016 called Jaywick: A Diamond In The Rough, was furious.

“I’m angry at the injustice," she told the Press Association. "I love Jaywick and I don’t think foreign people should be using our village as a political tool. How dare they?”

2015’s seafood was maybe not as fresh as advertised (Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)
2015’s seafood was maybe not as fresh as advertised (Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

But then, if Jaywick Sands residents hadn’t made a fuss about it, probably no-one would have known it was them to begin with.

Especially since they’re now such a nice, polished town.

But at least everyone knows it’s them now.