Laughs at Preston's expense on Have I Got News For You

The Preston 'Smiles Better' awards
The Preston 'Smiles Better' awards
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The row over Preston's Smiles Better awards reached a new audience on Friday night when it was featured on Have I Got News For You.

One of the questions on the hit BBC show, featuring Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, was about Preston.

Featuring a picture of Nando's, panellists were asked to answer why it had been in the news.

National chain Nando's and pub giant Wetherspoons took two top prizes in a search for Preston's best venues via Preston Business Improvement District's 'Smiles Better’ Awards.

The competition, sponsored by The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, saw more than 200 nominations from businesses and individuals across the city centre, which were whittled down to 80 finalists.

The winners of each category were chosen by a public vote, a point stressed by the organisers.

But some people complained that more independent outlets should have been recognised.

READ MORE: https://www.lep.co.uk/news/row-after-nando-s-and-wetherspoon-win-preston-local-business-awards-1-9709855
That led to some mickey-taking in national newspapers and now on Have I Got News For You.

Preston Council leader Matthew Brown later tweeted to thank Have I Got News For You panellist Ash Sarkar, who praised Labour's "Preston Model" which focuses on community wealth-building in the city.

But he added: "​Putting our independent businesses in the same category as large chains with nowhere near the same marketing budgets wasn't the wisest idea for our 'Smiles Better' awards."

Preston BID replied: "​Almost half of the winners this year were independent businesses, so in this instance, marketing budget is not relevant.

"Independent or national business, the BID welcomes them ALL and is grateful for the contribution they make to the city centre."