'Nunsthorpe estate is not a hellhole from which people want to escape'
MONEY, support and regeneration are the answer to the problems of Grimsby's Nunsthorpe estate.
That was the proposed solution to the social deprivation on the estate which was highlighted in a TV documentary.
ITV's "Exposure: Driven from Home" highlighted the growing number of families leaving the estate due to vandalism, vigilantes and vendettas.
The feature focused on daily life and the measures adopted to curb antisocial behaviour and drug abuse.
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Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell, who featured in the programme, said today: "The answer is money, support and regeneration."
The programme followed community champions Steve and Debbie Hill through the highs and lows of their success in setting up the Respect Funhouse, which closed two years ago due to a lack of sustained funding.
They warned of a descent back to the days of high crime and vandalism unless more money was invested in the estate.
Mr Mitchell said: "Steve and Debbie Hill worked a miracle on Nunsthorpe, but ran out of money."
Film crews spent the summer in the area, renting a home there for three months.
Narrator Liam McKenna said: "When the Nunsthorpe estate was built, it was an example of a brand new vision for social housing in Britain.
"At first, the estate was so well-kept it was dubbed The Garden Of Eden, but decades later, things aren't quite so rosy.
"Blighted by yobs and drugs, residents abandoned, and were driven from home."
Footage of teenagers climbing on the roof of a derelict house and other antisocial behaviour was screened, and residents, such as grandmother Hilary Fife, who left her home of 12 years because she was being persistently targeted by unruly youths, told their stories.
Mr Mitchell told the cameras: "Don't take it as a symptom that there's some mass exodus of people waiting to get out.
"It's not a kind of hellhole from which people want to escape; it's an estate with problems."
Another resident told reporters: "If you grass on the kids, you're going to get grief on your doorstep."
But the programme also highlighted the good work of community groups and figureheads, the amount of investment and falling crime rates.
It claimed the fear of people living there is that bad behaviour from a minority is driving good residents out.
"Nunsthorpe is certainly not Britain's worst estate," the programme concluded, "but real challenges remain, and in an age of austerity, the fight against antisocial behaviour is far from being won."
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that an announcement on the funding for a community hub for Nunsthorpe in the redundant St Mary's School is expected in the New Year.
Around £1 million has been earmarked for the project, which would transform the site into a centre to host of activities for families living on the estate.
North East Lincolnshire Council's head of integrated youth support services Steve Kay said a statement is expected in January on the prospects for the centre once funding has been collected.
He said: "Significant improvements have been made and everything is heading in the right direction.
"We are making progress."
He said the Nunsthorpe Resource Centre provided a host of activities and there were many young people taking part in the football academy on the estate.
His colleague, Spencer Hunt, safer and stronger communities service manager, said the new centre would be under the control of the people who live on the Nunsthorpe estate.
He said: "The vision for it should come from the people of Nunsthorpe themselves."
Community champion Steve Hill said he welcomed the plans for a new community centre and said he backed it on the condition that it is run by the people of Nunsthorpe for the people of the estate.
He said: "St Mary's could be a wonderful thing. There is a massive opportunity here to get things right.
"It will create employment and those involved will become trainers for other areas that need improving."
He said the ITV documentary was a fair reflection of life on the estate and said he was heartened by many of the messages of support he has received on Facebook and in e-mails.
Join in a live debate with Nunsthorpe community champion Steve Hill, and representatives of Humberside Police and North East Lincolnshire Council from 12.30pm to 2pm today.