'Disgusting' state of Newcastle West End back lanes leaves locals embarrassed by their street

Rubbish strewn around the back lane of Hampstead Road in Benwell, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
-Credit: (Image: ChronicleLive)

Residents of Newcastle’s West End have hit out at the “disgusting” state of its rubbish-laden back lanes.

Locals in Benwell have called for a renewed crackdown to rid the area of the piles of waste blighting its streets. On a walk around Hampstead Road on Tuesday afternoon, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) witnessed children playing and riding bikes around heaps of rubbish strewn around back lanes – including food waste, used mattresses, discarded furniture, and much more.

The problems of fly-tipping, bin-raiding, and littering around the West End have been the subject of complaints for years. Newcastle City Council has tried various measures to try and combat the problem, including trials of bollards, CCTV cameras, and switching from communal to individual households bins in parts of Arthur’s Hill and Wingrove a couple of years ago.

Speaking to the LDRS in Benwell, one of the most deprived parts of the city and home to a diverse population, residents issued a plea for change. Viktorija Janusanyte said she regularly witnesses people throwing rubbish from their upstairs windows into the back lanes and was embarrassed by the sight of the area she now calls home, after moving to Tyneside from Lithuania.

The 24-year-old added: “Some people are just too lazy to come down to the street with their rubbish. And then they wonder where the rats have come from. I have never known anything like this before in my life. It is disgusting.

“My family came from Lithuania to visit and I was very shy to show them where I live. In my country you never see rubbish on the floor, but here in Newcastle it is really bad.”

Kobra Dehbozorghi, who works in an Eastern European food store on Hampstead Road, said she felt the mess made the area feel “dangerous”. She told the LDRS: “Every morning I brush outside the shop, but very quickly the mess comes back.

“I think we need cameras to check who is responsible. Everybody around here has kids, it is all families around here and it just feels dangerous for everyone. Maybe if everybody cleaned outside their home it would be clean and it would make a huge difference. It is a big, big problem.”

Others who spoke to the LDRS said that some locals had tried to improve the situation but others had “given up”, while also pointing out that the area’s reputation had led to fly-tippers from elsewhere in the city travelling to Benwell to dump their rubbish.

A video describing nearby Gill Street as looking like a “war zone”, posted by general election candidate Yvonne Ridley, has been viewed more than a million times on Tiktok. Ms Ridley, an independent standing in the Newcastle Central and West constituency, claimed that people in the West End were being treated “like second class citizens” by the council when she compared the state of its streets to other parts of the city.

She added: “Yesterday I was in Blucher and it’s like a different world, yet the same council empties the bins. Everywhere I go people are asking me where the waste bins are.”

Newcastle City Council said it does “all we can” to keep the city clean but was fighting an “ongoing battle against a small minority who blight our neighbourhoods by fly-tipping and littering”. After the local authority was made aware of the situation by the LDRS, officials carried out a clean-up of the Benwell back lanes on Wednesday.

A spokesperson added: “We have taken several steps to improve the cleanliness in the west end of the city including increasing the bin capacity; changing street sweeping routes so that it is cleaned early in the morning; and engaging with businesses about their waste storage. Making our city the clean, green and brilliant place we all want it to be requires everyone – businesses, local organisations, residents and us – working together to dispose of litter and commercial waste appropriately.

“We would encourage residents to report any waste issues by calling 0191 278 7878 and ask for Your Local Services or visit our website at www.newcastle.gov.uk. If anyone witnesses traders depositing waste in domestic bins, then please let us know and we will investigate.”