Digbeth's neglected streets: Locals speak out as fly-tippers target Birmingham's 'coolest neighbourhood'

We visit Digbeth - one of Birmingham's 'coolest neighbourhoods' amid shocking reports of fly-tippers targeting the area and crime rates spiking
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Graffiti art adorns the walls of preserved red brick Victorian factory buildings. It's an area which embraces its post-industrial, gritty urban aesthetic. Digbeth is the hub of Birmingham's creative scene. It was previously named as one of the best places to live in the UK.

Recently, however, the harsher realities of life in the area have become apparent. Depressing scenes of Digbeth's streets lined with dumped waste and abandoned cars have led to complaints from locals who feel the area is being neglected.

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Local resident Greg captures the sentiment. "I think it would be nice if the area looked clean and had places where people could put things in the bin rather than having to walk for 10-15 minutes to find somewhere to put rubbish," he said, suggesting amenities could promote more responsible treatment of the neighbourhood.

Cassie & Greg in Digbeth, BirminghamCassie & Greg in Digbeth, Birmingham
Cassie & Greg in Digbeth, Birmingham

Though Digbeth has gained visibility in recent years as Birmingham's creative nucleus – with comedian Joe Lycett filming his chat show there and 'Peaky Blinders' creator Steven Knight planning a new film studio complex – these positive developments are overshadowed by a perceived rise in violent crime, including high profile murder cases like those of footballer Ashley Day and Cody Fisher.

It begs the question whether this once attractive district for artsy types has effectively become a 'no-go zone', sparking fear among residents like Cassie. "Around the back streets, I wouldn't want to be on my own in the dark," she admitted.

Birmingham City Council has acknowledged the district's fly-tipping issue, firmly stating that those responsible for dumping waste would face prosecution. Progress continues, with a tram line extension promising enhanced access and the anticipated opening of Knight's film studio expected to draw new visitors.

The Green Man in the Custard Factory, DigbethThe Green Man in the Custard Factory, Digbeth
The Green Man in the Custard Factory, Digbeth
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Optimism remains for some stakeholders in the area's future. Lee Nabbs, Director of Mockingbird Cinema, confidently states, "I think Digbeth is going to be the creative hub of the West Midlands.” He welcomes organisations like the BBC, which is set to bring shows like 'MasterChef' and 'Silent Witness' to the area. Nabbs believes that despite current issues, Digbeth will continue to "go from strength to strength."

Lee Nabbs, Director of Mockingbird Cinema in Digbeth, BirminghamLee Nabbs, Director of Mockingbird Cinema in Digbeth, Birmingham
Lee Nabbs, Director of Mockingbird Cinema in Digbeth, Birmingham

As this Birmingham district stands on the precipice of change, the question remains: Is the present state a mere blip in the narrative of Digbeth or a warning sign of challenges that require immediate attention to preserve its status as a cultural beacon?

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