If you are talking Northampton you are talking Abington Street to begin your visit, the once thriving and traditional main shopping thoroughfare having its teeth punched out, gaps filled with the perfunctory charity shops, pawn brokers, fast food restaurants and mobile phone repair shops (why is it only Afghans that work in those?) or simply left empty, a burnt our unit at the top our flagship of the decline.
The BHS and M&S have gone as the old dears can no longer get into town to spend their pensions as the buses have been cut as austerity bites big chunks out of the market town. I suppose the high street is no worse than any other but the town council made the bizarre decision to build a large facility to house down-and-out’s just 500-yards from the city bowl to take them off the streets but just attracted more bums to the town. The ironically named ‘Hope Center’ doesn’t let anyone in who are drunk or on drugs anyway so [allegedly] pretty pointless.
After Ian Duncan Smith piled into the unemployed with fists and kicks flying to cheer up his base to create those homeless people through benefit cuts, the bums have grown so much in number they have now started to pitch tents on the actual high street. The local churchyards are like shanty towns as the dossers and druggies slur and gurn yarns of drinking 14 cans of Special Brew as they crash out off their face first on spice, into their own discharges. Abington Street is a stream of p*ss at night as there are no public toilets when the shopping centres are closed.
The town centre is very busy in the day time as the unemployed chavs pulling on angry status dogs mingle with the shop girls, as steroid pumped lads leaving the Virgin gym try to impress them as you slalom your way through the chuggers, utilities salesmen and those annoying X Factor buskers howling out Boyzone songs. The fat birds from the council estates munch on fatberg’s that have squeezed out of the sewers after hitting a tampon block, their howling sprogs in the pushchair left to fend for themselves. Litter wardens wait to pounce on some poor foreign sap that drops their fag end, men dressed in black arrow in like the SAS to deliver the £70 fine, 2000 fined this way this year alone as the bankrupt council behave like The Sopranos. It’s unclear why the homeless bums sprawled around their feet on the sleeping bags in the shop doorways in a nest of litter and beer cans are not fined.
The Eastern Europeans are everywhere, be it the pot bellied wannabe Roma gangster type in the bright coloured tacky FILA trackers, or those shifty little puffa jacket wearing olive skinned ones in skinny jeans ready to dive into Carphone Warehouse and steel five Iphone 8s. The infinite cheap labor from the EU has destroyed towns like this, everyone forced down to minimum wage as employers sack at will and replace fair contracts with zero hours stuff. It’s not that British working-class men don’t want to drive forklifts anymore in the towns many satellite industrial estates but simply overrun by a numbers game, at least ten times as many sunken eyed Poles dodging national service, willing to work longer for less to avoid going home to patrol the Ukraine border in January. In the old days blue-collar grafters could just about afford a mortgage and a place of their own, but with those zero hours contracts and a constant supply of even poorer Baltic countries labor joining the EU even the Poles are undercut in the U.K. It’s a race to the bottom as globalisation shatters places like Northampton, as working tax credit subsidises our decline as the corporations stuff their tax havens. It’s not a Brexit town in the northern sense, but it’s a marginal around the referendum which saw none out of ten English regions vote Leave because the working poor are being hit the hardest.