'We are too embarrassed to say we live here' say locals in 'dead' Yorkshire town

'It's a s***hole - that's your headline."

Dewsbury folk aren't known for mincing their words and local woman Vicky, 50, is brutally candid in her assessment of the current state of the town centre.

Apart from Elegance Nails, a nail and beauty salon in Market Place where she is a customer, Vicky cannot think of much else worthy of praise. She admits to being too embarrassed to tell people where she's from.

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She jokes that I might get 'mugged' if I stray down the wrong alleyway and says: "Dewsbury is rough now. It started to decline about 20 years ago. My mum in law doesn't come down - she is too scared. She is 77 and is worried about groups of young men drinking and fighting. She is very intimidated."

Vicky, from Hanging Heaton, Dewsbury, says there is a street drinking culture in the town centre that the authorities turn a blind eye to. "I have seen the police walking past them while they are drinking. They don't do anything."

She is Dewsbury born and bred but says she only ventures into town once a fortnight. "It's very sad, but it's the same all over England, in all towns."

Vicky thinks some locals stay away from the town centre because of 'undesirables'. She wants to see a greater police presence to reassure people. A few more shops might tempt people back, but in recent weeks the town centre lost Peacocks and a discount supermarket called Quality Save.

"If Peacocks was still here I would be in there," she said. "For clothes I would go to the White Rose centre in Leeds."

She is sad about the demise of her town. "Dewsbury was one of the finest towns around. I don't tell people I come from Dewsbury. I am embarrassed."

Christine Dawson was heading to a coffee shop when YorkshireLive caught up with her in the town centre. She said: "There's nothing at all. Peacocks has closed, Quality Save has closed and some public houses, although I don't drink myself.

"I don't think the town centre will get back to where it was. It's gone too far downhill. Young ones are moving to Scarborough and where the jobs are. If I am not on my scooter (she uses an electric mobility scooter) I go to Morley which is very busy, or Wakefield."

Christine does like one spot and that's Town Cafe which is renowned for its fresh coffee and Turkish-style food.

Mohammed, 52, a stockbroker who was waiting for a lift from the revamped Dewsbury station, said the town centre had got 'worse' in the last month due to further shop closures. The lack of shops isn't good for community cohesion, he says, as it chips away at a sense of community and reduces interactions between people.

"Shopping is great for bumping into friends. What we need is a really serious study into why shops have shut and how to get them back open again."

Michael Rycraft, a retired maths lecturer, is a little bit more upbeat about Dewsbury's future, as he prefers to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

He is aware of various regeneration schemes, some of them backed by Kirklees Council, and says there are still some decent retailers and cafes around.

"Dewsbury has some lovely buildings; some have been well kept and some haven't. There is a feeling of history and it's easy to get to the motorways or into the countryside. And there are plenty of places to go for coffee in the day time. I would say there have been some improvements, although there is a feeling that Kirklees is spending the money on Huddersfield."

At Dewsbury Market, the traders that still remain are waiting for delayed redevelopment plans to come to fruition.

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Claire, who runs family sweet company Toffee Smiths which has a stall at the market, said: "Unfortunately Dewsbury is not the town that it was. It will take, if it ever can, a lot to make it right again."

In the Town Cafe, it was busy with customers on Friday afternoon, with some enjoying frothy coffee on tables outside.

Cafe customer Hanifa described Dewsbury as a 'total mess', adding: "It looked better in 1824 than it does in 2024. It needs a lot of work. The people of Dewsbury have not seen any benefit from their taxes. There are too many gambling shops, and we have seen closure after closure of shops."