Wednesday, 22 May 2024

UK city’s ‘Skid Row’ where whole streets are boarded up and houses sell for £80k

An area in one of the UK's biggest cities is now boarded up – with locals calling it a bomb site.

Toxteth in Liverpool is still remembered for the violent 1981 riots that saw hundreds injured and one man lose his life after being run over by a police car.

But, according to local Billy Moore, the area is, if anything, even more run down today.

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Billy told the Daily Star that he lived in the area 15 or so years ago. It’s completely changed its character now, with rubbish thrown on the streets and walls covered with graffiti.

“It was a proper community then, not like now…” adding that many people living in Toxteth have “no respect”.

Touring the area where he lived for his YouTube series, Billy said it’s gone sharply downhill since he left: “It’s a f*****g ghetto here, this area, this is Skid Row.”

Most of the houses are owned by private landlords so, as Billy explained, “the council obviously have got no part in fixing them”.

Which is why, with some entire streets of dilapidated houses boarded up, the area looks like “a bomb site”.

He continued: “I’ve just been talking to about half a dozen young lads who say that the streets have got loads of houses that are abandoned, boarded up smashed up – they claim that there were about 15 or 16 in one street boarded up.”

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Houses in the area can sell for less than £80,000 and are frequently snapped up by landlords who spend the bare minimum on upkeep.

The area's "Welsh streets" which have remained undeveloped for a century, were used as the backdrop for the filming of Peaky Blinders, with producers using Kinmel Street and Powis Street to recreate Birmingham in the 1920s.

A scheme to save the area's crumbling the Welsh Presbyterian Church collapsed, partly because of failure to secure funding from the Government's Levelling Up fund for regeneration projects around the country.

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Stephen Yip, CEO of Liverpool charity KIND, said: "Our plans for the old church were amazing and would have won awards. This is a 153-year-old building which has been derelict for so long. We were going to give it back to the city.

"The church has been part of my life. I was pushed past it when I was a child in a pram, and I've pushed my own kids past it in their prams. I'm heartbroken about it. This was going to be our legacy to the city, but now it won't be."

Local Deborah Underhill says that recently, three fridges and a couch have been dumped behind her house – adding to the growing pile of rubbish that now litters the alleyway.

Deborah said that people's insistence on dumping rubbish and the council not clearing the area has provided a home for vermin.

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She told the Liverpool Echo: "Someone had dumped three fridges on one side of my gate and on the other side are two sofas. I took a walk down the alleyway and I was just horrified.

"There was electrical equipment, kitchen sinks, broken glass, and dog faeces. It is just horrendous. We are just giving rats a free home and why would we do that to ourselves?"

As part of his tour of Toxteth’s run-down streets, Billy met a number of local eccentrics – including one man who claimed to be a friend of “the Devil”.

Outside the popular Sakoon café Billy spoke to Jed, a local who’s fascinated by worlds of “the supernatural, Satanism, the Illuminati, Freemasonry, propaganda and lies”.

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Jed told the story of Steven French, an “infamous” local character nicknamed ‘The Devil” who was believed was "a complete and utter nutcase”.

French was the scourge of Liverpool’s drugs trade, robbing dealers across Merseyside.

"You get the product, money or cash you get out and you tie the people up when you leave, it's as simple as that,” French once said.

”I didn't do it for any dislike of the narcotics trade. That wasn't my motivation. My motivation was I wanted the money."

French claimed he had 500 men working for him at one point, adding it was "the society and institutions he was born into" that "created the devil in him".

But he eventually managed to escape his “path of destruction” and has since become a Christian..

A lot of the area’s problems are much closer than other dimensions, as Billy’s tour of Toxteth’s ‘bomb site’ streets shows.

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