A council boss has apologised after referring to his home town as "a dump".
Leader of Northumberland County Council Jeff Reid was reported to have told Hexham traders "I live in Blyth and Blyth is a dump - so I usually get in the car and go to Cramlington".
Mr Reid said it sounded worse out of context and has since apologised, saying he "just said the wrong thing".
Blyth Valley councillor Deirdre Campbell said she was "so angry" at the "absolutely heartbreaking" comment.
She said the town had been "up and coming" but had declined since being taken under county council control.
"In the last five years, under Jeff Reid's watch, it's just gone downhill," she said.
"Why hasn't he done something about it?"
Liberal Democrat Mr Reid said he attended the meeting with Hexham traders as a private individual, not as leader of the council.
"If you were in the meeting you would have been able to perhaps understand the thrust of what I was trying to say," he said.
"Taken out of context it is absolutely the worst thing that anybody can say."
He explained he was trying to tell Hexham traders that, although he understood their business concerns, Blyth had "taken a bit more punishment".
"I used the wrong words. I obviously don't believe it. I've lived in Blyth for 57 years, this is the place that I grew up."