‘Benefits Street’ bloke had to booby trap his plants to stop them getting nicked

A bloke living on Birmingham’s James Turner Street – made famous as Channel 4’s “Benefits Street” – says he has been forced to booby-trap his plant pots and hanging baskets to deter thieves.

Roofer Steve Haywood had premises on the notorious street in the Winson Green area where at one point over 90% of the residents were living on benefits.

Steve says that in the end he had to relocate his business because of thieves and fly-tippers.

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“Things were getting that bad on the street we were having plant pots etc stolen during the night,” Steve told the Express. “We resorted to booby-trapping the hanging baskets".

“We’ve had to move out,” he added. “We were constantly getting trouble with fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

“We’ve still got a storage area, but it was no place to have a business, so we relocated but kept the yard. Some days I come to the yard and outside our gates there are just piles of rubbish.

“I’m on that road on virtually a daily basis and I’m constantly seeing rubbish dumped, the council do a good job, they move it but the next week it is exactly the same.

“I have to pay for a skip, a lot of it is my rubbish but a lot of it is fly-tipped, it’s never ending.”

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Steve added that some of the properties on the street were being used as first accommodation for newly released prisoners from nearby HMP Prison Birmingham.

“There’s a lot of drug use on that street,” he said. “While I’m working there and loading my van, I see drug deals on a regular basis.

“I was talking to one of the dustbin men and he told me the council know which house has dumped a roll of carpet or a mattress, but they don’t challenge them because they are on benefits it would cause undue hardship.

“But if it was me, self-employed working, they’d soon be knocking my door if they suspected me of fly-tipping or whatever. So, you’ve got a two-tier system, which is wrong.”

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Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “There is no reason or excuse for this behaviour. Fly-tipping harms where we all have to live and work and is carried out by environmental criminals that have no regard for our neighbourhoods or their well-being.

"There are plenty of lawful ways to dispose of waste, all businesses are required by law to have adequate waste disposal arrangements, and cleaning up other people's mess is a drain on our city’s precious resources.

“Put quite simply, we share the concerns of residents and businesses, but the council does not dump waste on the streets. Irresponsible people do."

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