Leigh Park, near Havant, in Hampshire has a terrible reputation. The website chavtowns.co.uk starts off
“Once the largest council estate in Europe, Leigh Park has a long tradition of chavness and could well be the origin of all Chavs upon this Earth. (were there any evidence that anyone’s moved out since 1959)”
I don’t like the term “Chav” and the website goes on and becomes much nastier.
Leigh Park is the result of re housing families from the WW11 bombing of Portsmouth. 27,500 people live there and the reputation would have you believe that all 27,000 are out setting fire to vagrants on benches as happened a few years ago.
My 14 year old was playing a match against a local Leigh Park team and during his pre match training / warm up I went on a run to explore Leigh Park. Yes the shopping parades are tad bleak in parts, and there is far too much litter, but there has clearly been significant investment in community facilities and there is no excuse for kids to be bored, with great facilities, play areas and wonderful wooded areas with streams to play in and den building opportunities a plenty. Yet the youth of Leigh Park have a terrible reputation amongst those that don’t live there.
Anyhow I came back from my run, thinking that Leigh Park’s reputation as a “hell hole” was not deserved at all. Yes the 50s, 60s and 70s flats and houses are mostly unattractive (with lots of grim pebbledash), but it certainly wasn’t threatening nor did it feel like it needed raising to the ground as so many people from outside the area often comment it should be!
However the football match clouded my view. In 19 years of watching my kids play football I have never seen anything like it. If some of the local kids’ foul language on the pitch wasn’t enough then the latent violence exuded from the parents and the blatant cheating from the local referee and linesman (who cheered and clenched their fists when their team scored!) was very sad indeed. At times it felt like watching another species. All human decency and morals seemed to have been replaced by aggression, nastiness and a reveling in getting one over “the opposition” at all costs. It seemed sub human behaviour and left me numb and sad and wondering if there was any hope. What had made these these people become so disenfranchised? Whether it’s the equality gap, or just a breakdown in human values, as a society we had better sort it out!
I am not going to elaborate other than to say that I left thinking it may not matter how much money is invested by a council and support agencies in a deprived area, if the parents lead by bad example, the kids are likely to grow into equally nasty people.
Sad sad Sunday indeed.