This was at the time of the Lebanon war, and our TV screens had images of entire neighbourhoods suffering from bombs, such that blocks of flats would have their sides knocked away, as in this image of the Green Line in 1982:
Now, nowhere in Stoke ever really looked like that. However, at this time the word ' Beirut' became disconnected from the reality, and just meant 'a down at heel area'. Thus the image that 'Beirut' now conjures up is a down at heel area, without the need for a war. It's a bit like the phrase 'it looks like a bomb's hit it' being used for an untidy child's bedroom. Obviously this wouldn't actually look like it would if a bomb had actually hit.
The choice of Beirut is also amusing because of what Beirut actually looks like, when we are not just looking at war-ravaged neighbourhoods. So when a local newspaper headline says £8.4million project to transform Beirut of Stoke-on-Trent complete it's worth remembering what Beirut looks like:
This is a city known as the Paris of the East - advertised for holidays with pictures of beautiful women, the sea, and luxury hotels - and also contains the regional UN offices and so on, making it a second-rank 'global city' (alongside Rome).
Blurton, however, is one of Stoke's suburbs that's not one of the 'towns' but does have its own shops, community spaces and so on. It's suffered a bit, but it's nowhere near the worst place around, and is conveniently next to the Britannia stadium. In fact, there's nothing remarkable about the place: obviously it doesn't compare to Beirut on either description, and doesn't deserve a bad reputation.