‘Hemel Hempstead is not ugly’ cry in internet poll backlash

Radio Dacorum is leading the #lovehemel campaign.
Radio Dacorum is leading the #lovehemel campaign.

Community groups have joined forces in a backlash against an online poll which named Hemel Hempstead as Britain’s ugliest town.

Volunteer-run Radio Dacorum is working alongside contributors to the Facebook page Hemel Hempstead Remembered to create an “anti-ugly” campaign encouraging townsfolk to be more positive about the area they live in, after it received 785 nominations in the vote organised by creators of the Crap Towns publication.

The move comes as national Radio 5 Live presenters mocked the town in a live broadcast on Wednesday, even going as far as to suggest the borough’s name of Dacorum sounds “like something off of Little Britain.”

To counter the negative press, Radio Dacorum station manager Matt Hatton started the Twitter hashtag #lovehemel, and began posting pretty pictures of the area.

Social media users soon followed suit, with debate springing up among the 4,000 members of the nostalgic Facebook page.

Radio Dacorum’s station manager Matt Hatton said: “I am not fussed about the poll itself, but we would like to use it as a springboard to raise awareness about Hemel, get more people coming here and show it’s a nice place.

“We want to see if we can get other organisations involved, we just hope it will catch on. We need to encourage positive thinking, and I think we can even include the whole of Dacorum in this because it’s a lovely area.”

Dacorum Borough Council leaderAndrew Williams said: “Far from being ugly, Hemel has much to be proud of. Anything that helps spread the word that Hemel is a place to be proud of, and helps our plans to improve the town centre, are welcomed. We wish Radio Dacorum great luck and look forward to seeing the results.”

Improvement plans for the town are already under way. To find out about public consultations see dacorum.gov.uk/hemelevolution.