TOWNS and villages in north Northumberland have been moved to a different county, thanks to one of the world’s leading websites.
A search on Google Maps for places such as Alnwick, Amble, Rothbury and Wooler produces results which claim that they are in Cumbria.
The online tool seems to think that coastal areas such as Bamburgh, Seahouses and Alnmouth overlook a different sea entirely, also listing them in the North West, while the likes of Belford, Warkworth and Hadston – amongst others – are similarly said to be on the opposite side of the country.
It has prompted an angry response, with fears that the errors could impact on attracting tourism to the area and have a damaging effect on small businesses.
And tourism chiefs have claimed that, despite making Google and Tele Atlas – who provide maps for Google – aware of the issue on countless occasions over the last year, nothing has been done.
Giles Ingram, chief executive at Northumberland Tourism, said: “It is ridiculous. It is not doing us any favours.
“I can’t imagine it will make people arrive in the wrong place if they have booked a holiday but it is annoying that it doesn’t highlight Northumberland. We want Northumberland’s name to be as strong as possible and this doesn’t help our cause.”
A spokeswoman for Google has said that any errors can be reported online via http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php and Giles has called on everyone in the county to bombard the site, sending a ‘deluge’ of requests for the information to be corrected.
His rallying cry has been backed by Jeff Sutheran, chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association.
Mr Sutheran, who owns St Cuthbert’s House bed and breakfast in Seahouses, said that if people inundated the site en mass, it would show how seriously the situation is being taken.
He added: “Obviously Google is a fantastic resource for small businesses and when it works well it is the small businessman’s best friend.
“But when it goes wrong, as in this case, Google is working against us and wrong information is actually damaging tourism. If anybody Googles for Seahouses and lands on a page that says Seahouses, Cumbria, they will give up or go somewhere else.”
A spokeswoman from Google said: “Information on Google Maps is comprised from a number of sources. We work hard to keep our maps as accurate as possible and appreciate user feedback. People can report an issue with regards to place names and locations at http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php”
TeleAtlas was unavaible for comment.