IT is hardly an honour but several hotbeds of the Irish in Britain have been named in a top 10 list — of Britain’s ugliest towns.
Luton, Birmingham, Coventry and Slough all appear in the line-up, leading loyal residents to react with shock and leap to the defence of the places they call home.
Popular Irish broadcaster Bob Brolly told The Irish Post that he was “very surprised” to learn of Birmingham’s place on the list, adding: “I have gigged at cities all over the world and I rate Birmingham highly. I would not have it anywhere near the 10 ugliest cities.”
But the Midlands city proved to be Britain’s answer to Paris in comparison with Luton, which received almost twice as many votes.
More than 3,000 people flocked online to make their voices heard in the survey by Crap Towns Returns, voting Hemel Hempstead the ugliest town in Britain.
Luton, which is home to the largest concentration of Irish people outside London, came second as 592 people said they believed it should have received the dubious honour of the top spot. Meanwhile, Slough, Birmingham and Coventry came third, fifth and seventh respectively.
“I think Birmingham is a great city,” Mr Brolly said in reaction to the survey’s findings. “It has come on so much and we have so much going for us.
“We have the most amazing town hall, the International Convention Centre and places like the Canal Basin, where so much work has been done. We are not ugly at all.”
Asked whether he often heard people complain about Birmingham’s appearance, the broadcaster added: “Have you ever known people not to complain? You can give people the world and they will still complain.”
Cavan man Joe Ward, who has lived in the Luton area for 40 years, shared Mr Brolly’s confusion at the results.
“I do not think there is anything particularly ugly about Luton,” he said. “And it has lots of attractive buildings. The University of Bedford has just built blocks of student accommodation that have lots of glass and colourful fittings. They look absolutely fantastic.”
But Luton local Jerry Mealy was less enthusiastic about the town’s aesthetics, saying he was “not surprised” to learn that Luton placed second.
“I would say Stockwood Park is one of the few redeeming features of Luton,” he added. “I used to walk my dogs there every day.”
The survey itself attracted angry comments from scores of voters, including one who declared: “The planners of Coventry have done more damage than Hitler’s bombs ever did.
“They have turned a beautiful city into concrete and glass ugliness that no-one wants to visit, or to live in.”
What do you think? If you live in one of the towns voted among Britain’s ugliest, do you agree with the results?