ristol-raised politician Sajid Javid has said he could have been drawn into a life of crime after growing up in “Britain’s most dangerous street”.
The Home Secretary grew up in Stapleton Road, living in a flat above the shop his father ran on the street.
In a speech on Monday about tackling crime Mr Javid, who seems to have his sights set on becoming the next prime minister when Theresa May eventually steps down, said his life could have been very different if it wasn’t for his teachers and parents.
He said: “I grew up in what one tabloid dubbed Britain’s most dangerous street. It’s not so difficult to see how, instead of being in the cabinet, I could have actually turned out to have a life of crime myself.ADVERTISING
“There were pupils at my school who shoplifted and they asked me if I wanted to help. There were drug addicts who stood near my school gates and told me that if I joined in, I too could make some easy money.
“But I was lucky: I had loving and supporting parents who despite their own circumstances, gave me the security that I needed. I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me and took me much further than I think even they expected.”
Stapleton Road received a lot of bad press at the turn of the century when it was named as one of five crime hotspots across the country by the then home secretary David Blunkett.
But community leaders Mohammed Elsharif and Khalil Aden Abdi say that the narrative used to describe Stapleton Road needs to change.
The pair have invited Mr Javid to come and visit the street – saying that a lot has changed in the 20 years since he has lived there.
“Stapleton Road is the real Bristol. It is a vibrant area in the city made up of a mix of different nationalities, races and religions all living and working together,” said Mohammed.
“There are still issues in the area, but the street is not the issue. The real issues are about equal employment, education and opportunities for young people.
“And a lot of work has been taking place in the community to tackle those issues and make sure our young people can contribute to the city in a meaningful way.
“It’s insulting to still hear Stapleton Road being described as the most dangerous place when I just don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
Khalil, a youth leader and co-founder of the Bristol Horn Youth Concern, said that when he first moved to the area 15 years ago he would walk along Stapleton Road at night and it would be a dark place where nothing was open.
But said that nowadays there are so many great restaurants and coffee shops along the road that attracts not just the local community but people from across the city.
“We have built something here and we hope that Stapleton Road becomes an example to other cities of what you can achieve.
“What we really hope is that Stapleton Road can become for Bristol what Edgware Road is for London – a place where communities from all over the world come to visit.”
He also said that people like Sajid Javid and Bristol mayor Marvin Rees are great examples for young people from the neighbourhood of what can be achieved.