Concerned students at an Ilkeston junior school have written to the council to complain about what they say is the sorry state of the town centre.
The perceptive pupils in class six at Chaucer Junior School visited the town centre recently and they were shocked at what they saw, they said.
So much so that the 10 and 11-year-olds each sent off a letter telling Erewash Borough Council exactly what they thought.
George Bramley wrote: “As a proud resident of Ilkeston, I would like to say that at the moment I am ashamed to visit Bath Street and the town centre.”
And his classmate Millie Bostock-Davey said: “I love living in Ilkeston but I am very alarmed by what is happening to my town! My mum no longer shops there – she says she is disgusted by what is happening.”
Some of the youngsters even suggested ways to improve the town, such as Jack Barker, who said the Co-op department store, which shut down this summer, should be turned into a shopping centre.
“Open up more shops – it’s boring!” he added.
Teacher Sam Starling was amazed at how observant her students were.
“I was surprised by some of the answers I didn’t expect them,” she said. “Some of the kids were distressed about the Co-op shutting down. You would expect adults to be upset but not kids.”
The aim of the lesson, she said, was to get the children to write for a purpose. They spoke to shoppers, took photographs and had a wander around the town centre before composing their letters.
“It was interesting because I didn’t have to point anything out to them,” added Ms Starling.
The kids were annoyed by the noticeboard on the Market Place which had posters two years out-of-date. They also complained of dog mess and litter and an electrical box which a number of the children felt was dangerous.
This week council officers have written back to the school saying they will take on board the youngsters’ suggestions.
Steve Birkinshaw, head of planning and regeneration, said: “Our Pride in Erewash campaign team has worked extensively with Chaucer Junior School and through a whole range of projects we know the school is committed to promoting the importance of caring for our environment.
“Helping our young people become passionate about looking after their town is key – they are the next generation.
“We applaud these young pupils for taking part in this class project which clearly shows that they do have pride in their town and we have already been in contact to thank them.
“Our street cleansing teams and our neighbourhood wardens work hard to keep the town clean and tidy - but it is vital that local residents are also actively involved.
“The ‘personal responsibility’ message is the theme of our ‘Love Your Town’ campaign aimed at cutting the amount of cigarette and other litter being dropped on the streets and in shopping areas.”
He added that the council was ‘committed’ to a range of regeneration projects, including the Golden Hello scheme offering £1,000 loans to new businesses and the shop front improvement scheme.”