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29 October 2014

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    Sam Jordison, Co author Crap Towns 2, visits Luton
    Sam Jordison, Co author Crap Towns 2.

    Is Luton still crap now?

    Andy Smith joined a tour of Luton's best bits
    Luton is officially crap if you believe the author of a controversial book, but when he came to visit the town the residents decided to show him why he was wrong!

    The Top 20 Crap Towns

    1 Luton
    2 Windsor
    3 Sunderland
    4 Edinburgh and Glasgow
    6 Clapham
    7 Bath
    8 Nottingham
    9 Corby
    10 Middlesbrough
    11 Birmingham
    12 Hackney
    13 Kew
    14 Hanwell
    15 Camden
    16 Brixton
    17 London
    18 Littlehampton
    19 Hull
    20 Port Talbot

    When Luton recently came top of the crappest towns in Britain survey, there were many who felt the town warranted its rubbish status. But some local residents and organisations were less than impressed and decided to fight back.

    So when it was announced that the editor of Crap Towns 2, Sam Jordison, would be visiting the town to promote the book, they decided to take him on a tour to show him the better side of Luton.

    The driving force behind the whirlwind tour of Luton’s finer side was organised in collaboration with Trust in Luton, the football supporters organisation and the Borough Council.

    ""Last years winner, Hull, took me on a big tour as well and I actually ended up quite liking Hull, so maybe I will like Luton as well.""
    Sam Jordison, Co Author of Crap Towns 2, reflects on his tour of Luton

    Between them they devised a tour that would take Mr Jordison through the town and hopefully change his opinion forever.


    First stop on the tour was the impressive Luton Museum in Wardown Park. Maggie Appleton, the Museum Services Manager, was keen to meet the author.

    "I'm really looking forward to showing him round our Museum because it tells some great stories about the people of Luton and the contribution they have made to the town" she said.

    Sam takes a special seat whilst on his tour.
    Sam takes a seat while on his tour.

    "We’re keen to have the opportunity of being able to show him what a great town Luton really is!"

    When Mr Jordison did arrive he appeared to be overwhelmed by the media attention he had attracted, but was already impressed with the surroundings.

    "This is a nice big park, all the trees are golden in the nice sunshine" he said.

    "Obviously the town centre was a bit less impressive but that is the bit I have seen before. I’m looking forward to seeing the good side of Luton."

    This was not his first visit to the town that he has publicly denounced as crap.

    Christina and Davina, unhappy Lithuanians
    Christina and Davina,unhappy Lithuanians

    "Last year's winner, Hull, took me on a big tour as well and I actually ended up quite liking Hull, so maybe I will like Luton as well" he revealed.


    While the Museum staff attempted to woo him, other visitors were less than impressed with the town. Christina and Davina were from Lithuania and students at Luton University.

    "I don't really like it because it is very small and there are no places to go" said Christina.

    "I don't like the people and the general look of the place. Also I hate that everywhere closes so early."

    Luckily they were not invited to meet the author and the tour continued on to Capability Green to visit BAE Systems. 

    The large multinational company had been based in Stanmore since the 1950s, but their desire to bring all their staff under one roof saw them up sticks and move to a purpose built site in Luton.

    Sam meets BAE's Ken Logan.
    Sam meets BAE's Ken Logan.

    Ken Logan, HR Managing Director for BAE Systems was only too keen to stress the benefits of the area. 

    "Luton has an awful lot to offer a large employer like BAE Systems" he said.

    "The infrastructure is brilliant, we have great road and rail links and are just minutes away from an international airport. We are very happy to be here."

    First class

    Next up was the University of Luton, where students were on hand to show off their first class media facilities.  Laura Garbas, Media Manager for the University felt the problem with Luton were the people who have lived here for too long.

    "I came back to Luton after living away for six years and I noticed a lot of positive changes in the town" she said.

    Next stop the Universtiy of Luton.
    Next stop the Universtiy of Luton.

    "For people who have always lived here, well, you always take for granted what is on your door step.  Luton has so much going for it, it is only when you move away that you realise that."

    Having been shown the University and BAE’s fabulous new building, the author was already beginning to see the error of his ways. 

    "I've just been round the big BAE building and it is certainly an intimidating, big flashy building. The University looks great they obviously have impressive facilities."


    But the tour was just about to reach its peak with a trip to the Hat Factory and Library Theatre. Previously a working building it has now been converted into an Arts facility for the town.

    Andy Grays, the creative director was keen to show off his impressive facility and hopefully change Mr Joridson’s opinions. 

    "I was disappointed that Luton tops the crap town list, it was never an impression I had ever had of Luton" said Mr Grays.

    Andy Grays welcomes Sam to the Hat Factory
    Andy Grays greets Sam to the Hat Factory

    "I think that the other towns near the top were Bath and Windsor, which I think are some of the nicer places in the country and probably show that Luton is in good company in not being as bad as everybody thinks."

    The tour of the Hat Factory really did seem to capture the imagination of Mr Jordison, who was positively buzzing by the time the tour came to an end.

    "It was absolutely fantastic, this is the place I am most impressed with, and it is really good, great facilities and it’s good that anyone can drop in" he said.

    "There is an awful lot going on here, it is also a great building as it all looks really cool.  Places like this are exactly what people always complain that they have missing in their town and now Luton has got it!"


    So the tour seemed to have done the job of convincing Mr Jordison that he may have been unnecessarily harsh in his decision to award Luton with top crap town status.

    James Araci a volunteer with Trust in Luton who led Mr Jordison on the tour felt it went well.

    "I think Sam is a bit sheepish that he edited the book now" said James.

    "He said he has been very impressed. I think he liked the Hat Factory most of all. He thought the facilities he saw were some of the best he has seen, I hope he was very impressed with what he saw, we'll see with the next book."

    The people of Luton wait to meet Sam.
    The people of Luton wait to meet Sam.

    But in the evening came the chance for local people to have their say on the book, as the author was guest of honour in an ‘I Love Luton’ event including local MP Margaret Moran and long term Hatters' fan Nick Owen.

    While the audience were keen to address exactly how Luton topped the poll, Mr Jordison actually explained that the voting had been incredibly unscientific and it was the many anecdotal stories of Luton’s crap nature that had swung the poll.

    There were comments from people who were relatively new to the area voicing support for their new home, and also people who have lived here all their lives who agreed it was still a nice place to live.


    The only real dissenting voices in the crowd were a group of students from the local University who despite having only recently arrived in the town, were extremely disappointed with what they had found. 

    The late arrival of MP Margaret Moran suddenly changed the atmosphere as she launched in to a strong attack on Mr Jordison. 

    Starting with more Hatters' puns than most people could handle, Mrs Moran soon turned personal. 

    Margaret Moran MP attacks the author
    Margaret Moran MP attacks the author

     “I’ll tell you what is crap, it’s not our town, it's crap that you keep publishing stuff like that which does our town down" she said.

    "When people come out with stuff that says Luton is a crap town it actually affects the town, because businesses think it a bad place to live and work.”

    While the audience agreed in principle with the MP for Luton's comments, they had begun to realise that the book was tongue in cheek.

    While it may be heralded as crap in this publication, it is unlikely to maintain the top title should the next book be commissioned.

    Sam Jordison returned to his home in Oxford well and truly lambusted.

    last updated: 05/11/04
    Have Your Say
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    Rianna North
    What's the point of writng a book about a town which you don't know about, i could write a book about Ausrtraila and say that was crap apart from i wouldn't know because i haven't been there.

    Gregg Bayes
    I'm a writer, and I'm stuck in this god awful town. There's nowhere to go. There's no-one to meet. All the women look angry. Its made me very cynical. I'm going to move away very soon

    #luton on irc GRNET (sucks)
    I m afraid i am going to agree with the book also.. I live in luton for 3 yeras and all i have to say is that this place is a "semetery".Most of the students here like me the all trying to find ways to get away from here.Its something like a curse. Public Anancument: DONT CAME NEAR TO THIS PLACE.. help

    No writer has to tell us how crappy Luton is... and no crappy MP (Margaret Moran) can tell him what to write...

    I was living for 2 months and I can say:Yes,Luton is as well as being crap it's also boring.Apalling town !!!!!

    And what is a good place to live in? I'm 16, I've lived here all my life. I am having a good education at the college, I passed my GCSE's, I have good friends, I have a good part time job, I have good times at the weekend or whatever. There's an easily accessible train station, a multi-diverse culture and a wide range of things around to do with culture, regular bus services (albeit not always on time), nice places to eat if you find the right place... So what if Luton is crap after all, there are plenty of people living here - we didn't become the largest town in Bedfordshire by being crap. If you don't like it then leave, no one is forcing you to say. Well...thats my two cents, not that it really matters now! Oh and how can Camden be one of the worst towns? Camden rawks!

    David Gwynne
    Judging by the universaty photo. Students don't get fed much in that town too.

    nothampton rules!!!!!!!!

    Rick Warner
    James Araci Rules!

    W*****d is worse than Luton, but Luton is worse than Kent.

    I agree with the book! Having lived in Luton all my life (49 years) I can quite honestly say that Luton is not the place it used to be! It is fast becoming a ghetto town.The Arndale Centre is a horrible place to shop.It is not the type of centre to go for a nice relaxing shop. Just get in and out as quickly as you can is the trick! The levels of crime are appaling. The traffic flow is an absolute joke! OK - It is surrounded by some nice countryside, but all in all the centre is a depressing squalid place to be. After dark it is a place to be avoided at all costs! My priority is to move out of the town ASAP! (The only good thing going for it at the moment is the success of the football team - and then they are being let down by the lack of a decent stadium! What is happening to the plans for a new one? Perhaps Margaret Moran could answer?)

    Sam Jordison
    Yes, I think that's the first time I've been 'lambusted'... I should add to this that I still stand by everything that's been said in the book - it's still true and still funny. I'm happy to say, however, that on my tour I saw real hope for the future in places like the Hat Factory and thanks to grass roots organisations like Trust In Luton. The belligerent Margaret Moran, however, I'm happy to leave to the mercy of voters.

    M Kumar
    MP Margaret Moran was correct in blasting those people who were responsible for such a verdict on the town, I have lived in the town for over 3 years and I find it is quite a pleasant place to live, with so many facilities viz Mainline trains to get to most of the major UK Cities within 2.5 hours time, excellent shopping mall which makes us forget shopping in the crowded Oxford street, good Cinema complex, Leisure facilities like Vauxhall club, livingwell etc., GOLF in Stockwood park!!!, atleast 5 Major car dealers are located in the Town, Close to the Animal safari parks .... and I can keep on going, particularly housing is quite affordable given the fact that this is only 25 minutes away from the Metropolis by Train. For the people of Luton I wish to say lets not give in to these kind of CRAP Surveys and not let them destroy our Feel-Good factor of living in the town. Thanks.

    So, it has a museum and a couple of big company buildings... it still doesn't make it a nice town to live in. Mr. Jordison should try going back to Wardown Park after dark, he will see some very different types of activity to those he saw yesterday !!! I lived in Luton for 15 years, and I support the original suggestion that it really is the crappiest town in England, and probably the crappiest town in Europe. It has a crap soccor team, a crap Arndale Centre, the levels of violent crime are crap, the schools are (generally) crap, and the traffic flow is completely crap. In the 1990's it had the highest auto-crime figures in Europe, and the decline in commercial investment can be seen everywhere. Don't be swayed, Mr. Jordison, YOU WERE RIGHT FIRST TIME !!!

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