Town’s beauty is on the inside, says bishop as ‘ugly Hemel’ row rumbles on

The Rt Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans
The Rt Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans

Community stalwarts have come to the defence of Hemel Hempstead after it was voted Britain’s ugliest town in an online poll, which prompted a national radio broadcast sneering at the landmark Water Gardens and Magic Roundabout.

More than 3,000 votes were cast on the website run by the people behind the Crap Towns publications, with the Hemel topping the poll with 785 votes.

Many townsfolk have taken to Facebook page Hemel Hempstead Remembered to rubbish the result, while the Bishop of St Albans Rt Rev Alan Smith said: “It’s clear to me the people who voted don’t really know the communities who live in Hemel Hempstead. Its true beauty lies in the people, especially those who work with the churches, charities and voluntary bodies which make such a difference.”

Sportspace trustee and sportswriter for the Daily Express Mick Dennis, who lives in Hemel Hempstead, also spoke out about the poll result in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday at 1.30pm. He said: “Hemel has all the flaws, and virtues, of a new town. It has neighbourhoods and swathes of greenery. There is definitely a community feeling.”

But the show’s presenter made a string of cheap cracks about the town during the interview.