'Hellhole' next to where Sajid Javid grew up named Britain's best

Best street in Britain revealed: Road next to where Sajid Javid grew up which was once branded a ‘hellhole’ is named best in UK in 2020 urban awards

  • Chancellor Sajid Javid said Stapleton Road, round the corner, was full of drug dealers when he was young
  • But the community has turned it around by launching an annual street meal during Ramadan
  • It was named in the 2020 Urbanism awards along with best neighbourhood Portobello in Edinburgh 

The street once branded a ‘hellhole’ next to where Sajid Javid grew up has been named Britain’s best in the 2020 Urbanism awards after locals turned it around.

St Marks road in Bristol, which the chancellor said was full of drug addicts and shoplifters during his childhood, has turned itself around after concerted action from the community and launching an annual street meal, or Iftar, in 2017 to celebrate the breaking of the fast during Ramadan. 

It was plucked from a shortlist of three for the award, alongside seaside neighbourhood Portobello, in Edinburgh, which was named Britain’s best, and Penzance, in Cornwall, which was named Britain’s greatest town.

Connswater in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was named Britain’s greatest place.

Areas won the awards based on their character, commercial success, environmental sustainability and community, among other factors. The awards were presented in London on Wednesday.

The UK’s best street, town, neighbourhood and place have been named in the 2020 Urbanism awards. St Marks road in Bristol, next to where Sajid Javid grew up in a place he said was full of drug dealers and shoplifters, was crowned best street

St Marks road in Easton, Bristol, named as the UK’s best street

The street is next to ‘lawless’ Stapleton road where Sajid Javid grew up, that was once labelled the ‘most dangerous’ in Britain. 

‘I grew up in what was dubbed by one tabloid as “the most dangerous street in Britain”‘, the 49-year-old said in a speech this year. 

‘It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being in Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime.

‘There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help. The drug dealers who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.’

His comments sparked an angry rebuke from the neighbourhood, where houses are now worth up to £410,000, which branded them ‘bulls**t’.

Abdul Malik, a school governor, magistrate and mosque chairman, told The Guardian in April: ‘There’s no justification for him to refer to Stapleton Road as the most dangerous in Britain.

‘He needs to wake up to the things that have taken this area forward.’

St Marks road, shown above, won the award in part for its annual street meal, or Iftar, held to celebrate the breaking of the fast during Ramadan. Judges said it is the ‘perfect example of community-led urbanism’

St Marks road in Easton, Bristol, where houses can cost up to £410,000, won the award due to its annual street meal, or Iftar, which is held to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It was started in 2017 after the Manchester terror attacks

Mr Malik also said he knew Javid’s father and said the Home Secretary was never involved in the Stapleton Road community.

And, after winning the award, residents on St Marks road were quick to point out that it is a ‘very friendly community’. 

‘We had over 200 volunteers for the grand Iftar and that’s what makes a community, that’s what makes a street’, Abdul Ismail, a business owner on the street, told the BBC.

Sajid Javid, pictured on Tuesday in Bolton, Manchester, said that the street where he grew up was 

Resident Stuart Phelps added that the street is ‘wonderful’ and has ‘a real community’.

Bristol City councillor Afzal Shah, who represents the area, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the result.  

‘It just goes to show that all the hard work put in by the local residents, businesses, charities and faith organisations – everybody – has all paid off.’

And, responding to the award, Mr Javid told The Express yesterday he doesn’t think of the street in terms of ‘best’ or ‘worst’.’

‘It is great to see Stapleton road get this award, though I don’t think of it in terms of ‘best’ or ‘worst’,’ he said.

‘For me, it’ll always be the place where I grew up – a young kid whose dad had turned up from Pakistan a few years before with little more than a pound in his pocket.

‘A lot has changed since then but one thing that hasn’t changed is that we live in a country where that kid from that working-class neighbourhood can become Chancellor of the Exchequer.’

In deciding to give the award to the town, the judges said it is a ‘cultural crown’ that is ‘diverse, popular and full of delight’.

‘It is a perfect example of community-led urbanism. The street creates cohesion across many cultural backgrounds and this mixed group are well served by the local business and the quality of street life here.’ 

The street joins a list of past winners including South William street in Dublin, Humber street fruit market in Hull and Wood street in Walthamstow, London, which have all been crowned as Britain’s best.

Crowds pictured enjoying the street meal, or Iftar, on St Marks road in Bristol this year. The event required more than 200 volunteers, according to one local business owner

A street view image of St Marks road in Easton, Bristol, taken this year. Houses on the street can be worth up to £410,000 

Portobello, in Edinburgh, crowned Britain’s greatest neighbourhood 

The area had been a seaside resort before the advent of air travel led to its gradual decline. Community activities have recently emerged in an attempt to re-vitalise the area and include beach volleyball, busking and sailing.

It won the accolade for strong ‘community involvement’ and having a responsive council.

The judges said: ‘Portobello confirms that positive change can be led by strong but diverse community involvement, especially when there is a real commitment to and passion for the local neighbourhood by its residents. 

‘It is the strength of local individuals and groups that is the force driving this area forward.’ 

Seaside neighbourhood Portobello, in Edinburgh, was named Britain’s best. It won the accolade for the way the community has turned itself around since the seaside town began to decline 

Penzance, in Cornwall, named Britain’s best town 

The town, on the southern tip of England more than 300 miles from London, was named the best town in the 2020 Urbanism awards.

The Cornish coastal retreat was praised for its work to ‘prioritise strong and meaningful relationships with the community’ after impressing judges with local initiatives including its mission to become a Plastic Free Community and campaigning against anti-social behaviour.

Lead assessor for the award, Michele Grant, said: ‘Community engagement and participation sits at the heart of the approach to turn around Penzance’s fortunes.

‘The Neighbourhood Plan has been extremely well used as a catalyst to achieve that.’ 

And Penzance, in Cornwall, was crowned Britain’s best town after judges applauded the area for its efforts to go plastic free and run a campaign against anti-social behaviour 

Connswater, Belfast, labelled the best place in the UK 

Connswater in Belfast, Northern Ireland, won the award after it created a ‘high quality area of public realm that has really brought communities together’ out of a flood defence scheme.

‘What is so extraordinary is the way that all of this has been majored from such humble ingredients’, judge David Rudlin said. 

‘While the Connswater Community Greenway may have started life as a flood defence scheme, the greenway in Connswater has created a high quality area of pulic realm that has really brought communities together.’ 

A street view image of Connswater in Belfast. It was labelled the best place in the UK due to its community project

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