Liverpool turns on Ringo for saying he misses nothing about the city

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As the city celebrated its Capital of Culture launch earlier this month, Ringo Starr stood on top of the St George's Hall and sang "Liverpool I left you, but I never let you down". But his professed loyalty to his home town was called into question yesterday as disparaging comments made by the former Beatle on national television sparked an outpouring of the city's notorious ire.

Some of Liverpool's most prominent public figures, not to mention thousands of members of the public, reacted with fury after Starr told Jonathan Ross on his BBC 1 chat show that there was nothing he missed about the city. Rubbing salt into the wound, the Toxteth-born drummer went on to admit he had exaggerated his desire to move back there merely to please the Liverpudlian public.

Asked by Ross if there was anything he missed about his birthplace – where he had just performed his new single, "Liverpool 8", to a crowd of 40,000 and vowed that he was "this close" to moving back – Starr replied: "Er, no... Look I love Liverpool. I was a child in Liverpool. I grew up in Liverpool. My family members are in Liverpool. But you know...

"I had to tell the audience, as it was so excited, that I was this close to coming back. But I had a great time up there at the weekend [during the opening ceremony]. I did."

Within hours the city's local newspaper, The Liverpool Echo, was inundated with calls from angry readers and more than 1,500 people had posted on the paper's website forums, venting their anger. Council leaders were also angered by Starr's flippant comments. Mike Storey, a city councillor, told the paper: "It's hugely disappointing and sad. It's disappointing someone who came to lead Capital of Culture year should go away and be so negative about it." Warren Bradley, the council leader, said he had received calls from people upset at Starr's apparent slur. He said: "It's not helpful on national TV. But... that's Ringo's style – to be flippant.

"He came to Liverpool and did a PR job for himself. And what we got from him being home paid dividends for us here and abroad. I'm not going to get hung up on it."

The general public was not so forgiving. One message on the website read: "I am disgusted by the way he mocked Liverpool after having the red carpet rolled out for him by the city only last week.

"He is happy enough to turn up here after 40 years to blatantly cash in on the city of culture tag but then slags the place off when he is safely back in London schmoozing with Jonathan Ross."

Another added: "I'm sad to say that Ringo has gone down in my estimation. As someone who was a huge fan of Ringo's I now feel he has let many of us down, the irony is his song suggests he has never let us down!"

While many other readers contributed similar angry messages, not everyone was disgusted. One poster on the message board said: "If you were loaded like Ringo, would you want to live in Liverpool?"