Couple who bought £1 house on Britain’s cheapest street terrorised by arsonists and stone-throwing gangs – The Sun

AS Mel Hilton-Phillips tucks her two daughters up in bed, she sees a figure lurking outside in the street and shudders.

Peering through a crack in the curtain, she watches in disgust as a local woman pulls down her pants, squats, and poos on the pavement outside her Liverpool home.

The bizarre sight would be enough for most of us to call the police, but for Mel, 30, and her family it's become the norm.

They moved onto the Webster Triangle in Wavertree, Liverpool, 12 months ago when she and partner Rob, 33, nabbed a £1 house on the UK’s cheapest street.

The childhood sweethearts – who feature on Channel 4’s £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street tonight – bought the house though a council scheme to sell off empty houses for a quid, which was set up to bring 6,000 empty properties back into use.

Families can apply to the council to buy the properties, and, if successful, they are allocated a house on the condition they stay there for five years.

Despite receiving 2,500 applications, progress has been slow and a council spokesman says only 58 families have been moved into the houses, which all come without plumbing or electricity.

As a result, the empty houses have been targeted by arsonists and gangs, who linger in the streets causing trouble, making life hell for the few families that have moved in.

'We are too scared to go out'

On Mel and Rob's street, only three out of 17 houses are occupied.

Many were due for demolition to make way for new social housing – but plans were scrapped when the coalition government closed the Housing Renewal Fund in 2010.

At night, the rundown area becomes a magnet for gangs, drug dealers and arsonists. Last year, they even found a bullet on their doorstep after a mass shooting nearby.

Another resident found 40 bags of cannabis with a street value of £30,000 dumped in a skip.

Despite loving her home, Mel admits she's too scared to go outside at night.

She says: “It’s quite intimidating if you’re a woman on your own and you walk out in the dark and you’ve got big groups of teenagers hanging outside. I just stay inside.”

Police in Wavertree recorded 950 crimes in April alone – with anti-social behaviour and violence topping the list.

The show’s cameras caught large groups of youths outside the house on Mischief night, drinking, shouting and wheeling each other up and down the street in stolen supermarket trollies.

The couple hear fights outside their front door and they live in fear of stones and bricks coming through their window.

“There are a lot of bricks lying around – and the fact that we have made such an effort on our house is asking for trouble,” says Mel.

“When we got this house we wanted to do it because we wanted an easy life and we didn’t want to be worrying about mortgages… but I didn’t want to be worrying about my windows getting smashed either.

“I don’t want to leave my house and be panicking that my house is getting ransacked.”

Attacked by the woman who poops on the street

Marauding teenagers aren’t the only unwelcome visitors to the street, either.

“In the past we’ve had problems with a woman who was using the street as a toilet – and I saw her again last night,” says Mel.

“She got quite aggressive with me and physically got hold of me, and I thought: ‘What have I got myself into here?’

“This is not what I want to be doing: sitting down eating my dinner and someone pulls their pants down… and we can see them out of the window.”

Inside their four walls, Mel and Rob’s home is beautiful, with clean bright rooms, a spacious kitchen, cosy living room and modern tiled bathroom.

“It’s definitely our dream home,” says Mel. “We don’t have a social life but we don’t feel we’re missing it because we love being here.

“It’s so special because we did it all ourselves so it makes us proud.”

But outside their door, lies a “ghost street”, lined with derelict houses boarded up with metal shutters.

“I feel like we’ve been forgotten about,” says Mel. “I come out of my front door and my view is unoccupied houses and they’re falling into more and more disrepair. The house opposite has big cracks in it. It could go any moment.”

Fires and vandals

Community worker Debbie and her partner Steve, who also feature in the programme, have big plans for their double fronted £1 property at the top of the Triangle.

Debbie, who had been renting for 20 years and was refused a mortgage because of past health problems, dreams of a walk in wardrobe, off-road parking and a 20ft kitchen with quartz worktops and central island.

Carpet cleaner Steve, wants a wide screen TV, Play Station 4 and a chaise longue so he can put his feet up.

Their renovations would cost £60,000 but Steve thinks they can keep it under £25,000 as he does most of the work himself.

But he admits the area is not ideal and the house has already been targeted by vandals who have snapped a drainpipe climbing over his fence.

“I’m putting my blood and guts into this for her so she can have somewhere nice to live, although the area is not up to much,” he says. “It’s a bit rough.

“All my brothers and sisters say you’re mad, going round there. I’m a bit dubious but you’ve got to give it a go for a £1. Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Arson is also a problem and Steve was recently worried when fire engines were called to put out a fire in one of the empty houses over the road.

Local newsagent Sam says ‘several’ of the houses have been set ablaze by local yobs.

“They’re targeting the empty houses,” says Steve. “The problem I have is that the house next door to me is empty as well.


“You can’t be here 24 hours  a day stopping it.”

£1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street airs on Channel 4 tonight at 8.30pm

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