We live on UK's biggest council estate – it used to be clean & tidy but new residents RUIN it, we wish we could leave | The Sun

RESIDENTS who live on the UK's biggest council estate say it used to be clean and tidy but new people have RUINED it.

The 27,000-home Becontree estate in Dagenham, east London, was built in the 1920s and 30s.

The first homes were completed on Chitty's Lane in 1921 and an estimated 100,000 people now live on the estate.

Several famous names grew up there including football managers Alf Ramsey and Terry Venables, comedian Max Bygraves and actor Dudley Moore.

It was designed to rehouse people displaced from the East End by slum clearance and covers four square miles.

For many families it was a radical improvement, but several lifelong residents claim the area has gone "downhill".

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Delivery driver Andy Woodley, 56, who often enjoys a pint in the local boozer, said: "We moved to Dagenham from Poplar when I was four.

"It was the overspill of the East End and there were no problems growing up. I think the area is different now.

"Over the last 15 to 20 years it has changed a lot with urban cleansing. For better or worse – I'm not sure.

"We'd probably leave if we had some money, but the houses are reasonably priced around here.

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"You do get a lot of work opportunities and you are close to central London.

"The cost of living crisis has turned the screw and is another reason we won't move."

Andy's father George, 78, said: "Dagenham will always be in my heart, but I think the area has gone downhill.

"People used to keep their houses nice with lovely plants in the front gardens.

"Now people who rent here just don't care. Hence the reason my wife and I moved away.

"Otherwise I would still be living here where I literally brought up my family."

Gary Powell, owner of The Golden Fish chippy, said: "I think things have changed terribly in this area.

"It used to be clean and tidy, but with new people coming in they just don't seem to care."

"We've had to put our prices up and it's ridiculous," the 57-year-old, who was born and raised on the estate, added.

"People only come in once a week now as opposed to twice a day in the past.

"We haven't been able to keep the prices down. It is definitely threatening the business.

"One day it can be busy and then another complete solitude. Everyone is struggling right now."

J Patel, 40, has run Turner's newsagent with his brother for the past three years.

He said: "Teenagers in this area have tried to rob the shop more than 15 times.

"Only one person is working here sometimes and they come in big groups.

"You can't do anything. We call the police, but they don't do anything.

"I have installed so many CCTV cameras to record the crimes."

Mother-of-three Valentina, 39, moved to the estate 15 years ago and lives on Chitty Lane where the first homes were built.

She said: "About ten years ago there was a lot more crime. Now it's not too bad.

"We are happy here. We had no problems raising our children in this area."

Kate Cairns-Gill, 41, who runs The Beacon Tree pub, said: "The locals are lovely. It is somewhere people know they can come together as a community.

"Punters do complain when the price of pints go up and we do have quiet periods."

Brenda Welford, 77, has lived on Becontree estate for 25 years and worked at several pubs in the area before she retired.

She said: "People have different opinions but I like to make up my own mind.

"I hear more and more people say they want to move out and it has got nothing here for them.

"I don't agree with that. I wouldn't move from here if you gave me £1million. I love the area and I'm happy here.

"But my bills have gone through the roof. I was paying £98 at Christmas for gas and electric and now I'm paying £187.


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"I have to cut back but it's not what I want to do. I don't want to go back to work."

The Sun has contacted Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council for comment.

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