June 11, 2006

Just another Saturday night in Leam

Will I miss Leamington when I leave in a couple of weeks time?

Based on last night, no. Firstly, don't worry Jimmy, it was nothing to do with your pleasant company during the Argentina v Ivory Coast game.

It was more the virtually constant alcohol–infused violence going on outside my flat from midnight until 2.30am. I must have heard about five instances of threats to murder and tens of people who weren't just drunk but utterly paralytic. It only ended when several people got badly injured and the police (eventually) turned up.

Listening in bed while a long procession of drunk 'revellers' wandered past, it was remarkable how it sounded like a school playground had moved outside, albeit with the added bonus of broken beer bottles ready to be used as weapons. The guy sat in the middle of the road at 1.30am screaming "why are all the pubs shut" (making Big Brother's Nikki sound like an Oxbridge graduate) nearly took the prize for most pathetic excuse for an adult.

That was until some guy appeared (I was at the window by this point) to batter his girlfriend and anyone who tried to get in his way. Judging by the look of horror on the faces of people who could see it properly, and the resulting pools of blood on the pavement, it must have been a pretty horrific attack.

Interestingly, from two floors up you can work out why there appears to be so few police officers in Leamington most nights. They're all in unmarked cars. I must have seen three different saloons go by, each with police inside (you can only really see their stab–proof vests from above). Unfortunately, this means there's no 'deterrent'. There's just the unlikely chance that you might be spotted by a hidden policeman.

Sadly I suspect that leaving Leamington won't bring an end to living with widespread alcohol–fuelled violence. Living in what essentially is a large village at home, I know that even the smallest places suffer the same problems as city centres. And yet you rarely see village–violence(!) reported.

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  1. Leamington has a really nasty side to it. It sucks to feel intimidated in somewhere that's supposed to be your 'home'.

    11 Jun 2006, 11:19

  2. Yikes. I agree with Paul – I often feel a bit on edge going out in Leamington, and its not restricted to the spa, but some wider British problem. The answer (for me anyway!) is to move somewhere better. Right now, Gaza looks like a safer option.

    11 Jun 2006, 11:57

  3. I have heard this counter–intuitive theory that Coventry is a safer place to go out than Leamington. It may actually be true.

    11 Jun 2006, 12:19

  4. I have a theory that trouble finds people who go looking for it, so do drugs, criminal offences and other antisocial behaviour. I'm extremely uncomfortable being around people who randomly go up to strangers and start conversations in a very public domain. The couple of times it's happened in my presence it's ended up with me shaperoning friends into a club/pub and letting the bouncers know someone is chasing one of the group members. That's happened once in Coventry and once in Leamington, both with the same person. Conversely when I'm just out with people who don't do that kind of thing, I have a good night, I've never seen violence, even driving through Leamington at 3am, though like anywhere I know it happens. I dunno maybe I live in a safe, middle class world. I do know that not being drunk helps by miles with the not being caught up in issues thing though…

    11 Jun 2006, 13:23

  5. I agree about Leamington. I always feel intimidated every time I go south of the rail bridge. The Parade and northern parts are OK (despite me once getting off the bus at the top of the Parade and walking straight into the middle of a mass riot between a load of pissed and seemingly drugged up chav teenagers at 4pm on a Saturday – and it was nasty) but down south is where it gets really dodgy. I hate to sound condescending but it just seems full of down–and–outs with nothing better to do than stagger about pissed all over the road. The only "normal" people I've seen down that way are a couple of people out early walking their dogs, and students going to and from the Crown Hotel bus stop / Town Centre. I certainly won't miss Leamington.

    11 Jun 2006, 17:28

  6. Yeah, not surprisingly I live right by the railway bridge you mention. I don't think it would be unfair to say that there seem to be a lot of people in this bit of the town with some mental health problems, but they tend to be pretty harmless. It's the ordinary locals in their 20s, 30s and even 40s who seem more dangerous, at least when they've been on the juice.

    11 Jun 2006, 17:40

  7. Stuart Coles

    I have heard this counter–intuitive theory that Coventry is a safer place to go out than Leamington. It may actually be true.

    I'm sure the violent crime figures in Leamington were shown to be higher than Coventry (I don't have anything to back this up however!). I've never had any trouble in Coventry (and have visited most of the less desirable places in town :D) but have had bother in Leamington. It's certainly my view that Cov is the safer place to live.

    11 Jun 2006, 18:09

  8. I live by the railway bridge too. Weekends can be bad for drunks but last night was by far the worst. People were so drunk they literally couldn't walk. One guy just collapsed in the doorway of William Hill and went to sleep there. Anyway, I guess it's going to be like this every time England have a game, although hopefully weekdays won't be as bad. I love being in the centre of everything in Leam but quite looking forward to living somewhere a bit more peaceful next year!

    11 Jun 2006, 18:35

  9. Ah, I thought there must have been someone sleeping in William Hill because people kept stopping and looking at something as they walked past.

    The real action was outside Ladbrokes though. Apparently the phone box there used to be a notorious drugs drop–off, but has now returned to its original use – allowing drunk people to call for a taxi or shout abuse at their husband/wife.

    11 Jun 2006, 18:47

  10. I've definitely seen some suspiciously acting people waiting by that phone box for a call recently, on two seperate occasions.

    Maybe it still retains some of its original usage.

    11 Jun 2006, 21:02

  11. Gareth Herbert

    I've lived in Leamington for the best part of this now and I have to say, I think for the large part the place is pretty peaceable. That said I live in Swindon so perhaps that makes most places favourable by comparison (although I will say that it’s nowhere near as bad as reputation would have it).

    Still though, one of the objectives that me and some friends have set ourselves this year has been to be served in every pub, bar or social club in the town and the outlying areas – which has proven to be more of a challenge than we initially expected. Anyway, whilst a lot of the places we went to seemed pretty parochial (as though there was some kind’ve invisible sign above the door reading “not for students”), the vast majority of people we met along the way were a really nice bunch once you’d gotten past the “so, you’re a student” barrier. That said, we found that there were a few places like the Debonair and the Builders’ Arms that were pretty much no go areas and we met a few characters there that, at best, could be described as “shady”.

    Having said that I think you’ll have places like that in almost any town and for the large part I’d say that Leamington is a cracking place to live. I’ve only been to Coventry a couple of times (barring trips to the Colly) and I have to say that I found it ugly, overrun by chavs and seeped in despair.

    11 Jun 2006, 21:04

  12. That said, we found that there were a few places like the Debonair and the Builders’ Arms that were pretty much no go areas

    Really? The Builders' Arms was my local last year, just round the corner from my house in Leamington – we always found it alright, the staff were quite welcoming and we only had one incident with some tosser who couldn't beat us at pool.

    11 Jun 2006, 22:02

  13. The Builders Arms was great for the first half of this year… Most of my mates in north Leam got to be friends with Luke who seemed to run the place, but he's left now, and the new barmen aren't exactly welcoming… Still, it's nicer than the Hope and Anchor, went in there for a few minutes when we first moved to Leam and basically just got stared at until we left!

    12 Jun 2006, 11:30

  14. James

    This post raises the general issue about yobs. Here are what HM Torygraph's readers think about it. Can anyone come up with a more original or suitable solution?


    12 Jun 2006, 15:53

  15. There's a fairly simple solution which apparently hasn't occurred to PT&C yet. In fact it's so simple that it can be expressed in just two words, the first of which is "more" and the second "police".

    12 Jun 2006, 21:45

  16. And yes, Leamington has a much higher per capita risk of violent crime than Coventry – indeed last year it was ranked one of the mot violent places in the Midlands!

    "crime statistics reveal that the past twelve months have witnessed a large increase in alcohol and/or drug related violence. Further, GIS mapping reveals that there is a strong association between violent crime and the location of licensed premises in town centres. More than one third of all violent offences across South Warwickshire are alcohol–related. This proportion is even higher in the town centre areas of Leamington Spa and Stratford–upon–Avon.

    13 Jun 2006, 11:54

  17. Matthew Jones

    Although I can't argue with the above statistics, I did grow up in Coventry and I can say that at times it is extremely dodgy, but also that it is quite easy to avoid the dodgyness. You must remember that Saturday was an In–ger–land game, and therefore there were going to be problems. This is not unique to Leam. After one England match riot police were called to the High Street in Coventry (where Lloyds and Yates's are).

    The thing with Coventry is that it is quite easy to avoid trouble spots. As bad as Yates's'/Lloyds are, if you just stay in the taxi and go in the Campbell/Phoenix, you'll probably never see any trouble. Earlsdon has the biggest (Warwick) student population and is relatively peaceful (feel sorry for the Cov students in Spon End).

    Leam on the other hand has very little outside of the town centre. Everyone ends up on or near the Parade so if there is trouble, most people see it and it is harder to avoid.

    It's pretty simple, if the football's on, keep on eye out for yourself. Wherever you are.

    14 Jun 2006, 17:00

  18. i walked near spon street on a friday night and felt pretty terrified i have to say. it was 5/6pm.

    That said, leam goes a bit crazy every friday and saturday night but i haven't witnessed any violence since living there and feel quite safe walking from north to south leam on my own in a mini skirt. There's a bit of a tradition of drunk drivers screaming stuff out of car windows but generally all pretty harmless.

    obviously all might change with this world cup, hmmm.

    15 Jun 2006, 12:43

  19. Sundays always seem to be pretty rowdy down this end as well. Sadly we live next to a pub which has absolutely awful karaoke singers in on a Sunday.

    15 Jun 2006, 12:48

  20. I live here. I can here shagging next door.

    21 Jun 2006, 02:04

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