I live in UK’s saddest council estate with ‘carpet’ of 800 vodka bottles… it makes Shameless look like The Borrowers
EIGHT hundred discarded bottles of vodka, 4,000 cans of beer and 150 nitrous oxide cylinders – this is the rubbish that has turned a desolate estate path into a ‘carpet’ of filth.
The pitiful sight in Rotherham, South Yorks, reveals a struggling community drowning their problems in drink, causing a nightmare for local residents.
For weeks, local councillor Ian Jones has spent his Sundays scouring the pathway that backs on to the council estate of Meadowbank.
Over just one 50m stretch, he once collected 497 empty vodka bottles and has picked up enough litter to fill 50 bin bags.
The 53-year-old grandad-of-two told the Sun: “I’ve never seen anything like this. You usually get a load of pop bottles, crisp packets and chocolate bar wrappers but this was made up of a majority of alcohol waste.
“This is really worrying because this is enough to be servicing the whole of Meadowbank. If this is what our children are doing then this is going to have a massive impact on them as they grow up.”
Rotherham is still reeling from a shocking child sexual exploitation scandal, which involved the abuse of 1,400 children by men of predominantly Pakistani heritage while authorities failed to act between 1997 and 2013.
Resident Mark Thompson, 60, who is ex-Armed Forces, said: “Because nobody has been held to account, we are left with a community who feel they have been neglected.
“Until somebody is held accountable for what happened then nobody is going to feel that any police or council has their best interests at heart.
“We are forgotten people here.”
He added: “This estate is in such a state that it makes Shameless look like The Borrowers.
“There is a massive problem with alcohol here. Yes, there are drugs, the kids are smoking cannabis, but the adults are alcoholics, they drink to forget.
“What’s happening here is you’re getting people buying their alcohol at the top and they are drinking it on their way down and then hiding their addiction in the bushes before they get home.
“You won’t find any big bottles in there, it’s all little bottles that can be drank on the way home.
“People aren’t addicted to drugs, they can’t afford drugs, their fix is alcohol. And what do people do about alcohol? Nothing.
“You can have a community on drugs and it brings the police but give them alcohol and they can drink themselves to oblivion.”
He added: “It’s a hopeless situation.”
At the Premier Convenience Store South Street, their best-selling brand of vodka is Chekov, which retails at £4.79 for 20cl, or £7.99 for 35cl.
The shop worker behind the counter, who did not wish to be named, told The Sun they sell around eight small bottles a day – with just one woman buying three or four of those.
Asked why she didn’t buy a bigger bottle for cost efficiency, the store assistant said: “You can’t hide the big bottles.”
Instead, the customer makes four separate journeys to the shop.
They think she may be singularly responsible for the “carpet of vodka bottles” that councillor Jones found in one area.
The shop assistant said: “We know the woman comes in and buys her vodka, drinks it and throws the bottle in the bushes on her way back home.”
The shopworker tells how she grew up in the area and that it used to be a lovely place to live, with the field next to the path having a play park.
“Sadly over the years it kept getting damaged so in the end they didn’t replace it.
“There used to be a Scout hut at the end of the road but that’s not there either.
“There’s nothing for the kids to do around here.”
The shop’s owner, Dalvir Singh, 52, who has owned the shop for 20 years, added: “You see people pull up outside the shop, on the other side of the road, and throw all their rubbish out on the side. I wouldn’t mind but there is a bin there.
“There is no respect, but it is such a mess people don’t make an effort.”
Unhappiest place in UK
A traditional coal-mining town, Rotherham is the hometown of celebrities, including TV presenter James May, politician William Hague and the Chuckle Brothers.
It was ranked the unhappiest place in the UK by house selling website Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index last year.
Care worker Shannon, 25, said: “It is not nice round here. There are some people around here who drink and use drugs and it creates a bad stigma for the rest of us.
“I don’t like walking down that ginnel and I avoid it, there can be people hanging about. The drunks will buy their alcohol from the shop and then cut through there to hang about in a group further down, but these are not children I’m talking about.
“These are grown adults. Men and women, with the women being worse than the men. They walk through the estate with their booze, they are not bothered. People walk past my house and throw their rubbish in my privet. They have no respect.”
Another resident, Carol Overill, 62, who moved onto the estate 18 years ago, added: “I think some round here who are born and raised don’t realise but it was a real eye opener for me.
“The kids around here run riot. I’ve seen a two-year-old child walking down the street on their own and at first I didn’t know what to do about that but you soon become hardened to it and realise this is how it is round here.”
IT worker Ross Catley, 36, said he does not use the path because it’s such a mess.
Instead, he will walk the long way round to use the shop when he’s walking with his youngest child because he doesn’t want him to see it.
Mental health support worker Dawn Thompson, 56, backs on to the path and has suffered untold damage, with back windows smashed and fence panels stolen.
She said: “You can’t even take your dog for a walk over there now. I’ve taken my dog out for a walk and had to carry him back because the ground is covered in glass. It’s horrendous.
“It is not a nice place to live. I have lived round here all my life. It was lovely when I was a little girl but no more. Now I have rubbish and paint cans thrown over my back fence. We shouldn’t have to live like this.
“It’s not just normal rubbish, it’s concrete tiles and fridges. I paid £120 to have my rubbish removed by the council but other people are happy to live in the gutter.”
Councillor Jones, who is part of a local team called S61 Litter Pickers, hopes to keep on top of the rubbish with a monthly litter pick.
The buyer manager for a car components company, who also volunteers at the military community veterans centre, said: “If you can instil pride in an area, if it makes one person’s life better, then you have done your part. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”