DO you remember a few years back when news that Spam was being phased out sparked a public outcry which ended up saving the tinned meat’s bacon?

It was an example of when members of the public had fallen for one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book - putting out a scare story to get gullible folk to buy in to a sales campaign. It often pays to beware advertising and PR people with ulterior motives.

At least two campaigns are running right now to try and reverse the fortunes of Darlington, which some say faces a crisis of confidence as M&S prepares to close its town centre store and House of Fraser/Binns could follow suit.

The #lovedarlo social media campaign was followed by 'I’m backing Darlington' which recently hosted an event where business owners came up with ideas which they believe could make a positive difference.

Those ideas, many of which look eminently sensible, are listed on this page in the piece written by local businessman and prominent Conservative party activist Graham Robb.

The Echo is a passionate supporter of the region's towns and we jump at the chance to report the great things happening in them, while also highlighting the genuine issues faced by traders and shoppers. We haven’t come out in favour of 'I'm backing Darlington' but we support its broad aims - to ensure the town remains a vibrant place to live, work, run a business, have fun etc. However, we would withdraw that support if concerns about the town’s retailing future were being used to score party political points in preparation for future electoral campaigns.

If towns such as Darlington are to flourish they need everyone pulling together rather than genuine concerns being used to fuel ulterior motives.