Extract from the Guardian’s Northerner news digest:

There’s nothing like a story that reinforces your prejudices, especially one that suggests that civil servants in London haven’t a clue about geography. You and I know that there is a Newcastle (upon

Tyne) across the water from Gateshead and another one (under Lyme) in Staffordshire. You and I are not likely to confuse them. And if we were in the fortunate position of having GBP2.7m to hand out, we would make sure we were sending the postal order to the right place.

Unfortunately, the Department for Local Government and Communities is geographically challenged, and has confused Tyne and Lyme. It sent cash from the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive scheme (which, according to the Newcastle Journal, rewards councils for encouraging business growth) to the north Midlands rather than the north-east. Council leaders on Tyneside are astonished.

NuL’s council leader Simon Tagg said: “I’m flabbergasted someone could have made this mistake. The council accepted this money in good faith. It was a large amount, but we assumed it was in recognition of the work we have done to encourage business growth.” And no, the department couldn’t have its money back.

The flabber of John Shipley, Liberal Democrat leader of NoT council is even more ghasted. “It’s an astonishing error by a Whitehall department to confuse the two Newcastles. A year ago, officers expressed surprise that we hadn’t got more money under the scheme. Our officers thought we’d got less money than we expected. We queried it and we were told we had the correct sum.

“We now know a gross error has been made. I’m pretty shocked. Local government is regularly accused by central government of inefficiency. Now we have a major Whitehall department that doesn’t know the difference between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.”

A (deeply embarrassed?) spokesman for the Department for Local Government and Communities said: “We are working closely with the councils involved and are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

Perhaps the steps will included a map. In case you are a fretting Geordie, you can be assured that NoT will receive the money it is owed.

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