A COUPLE who ran an antiques shop in Lye for nearly 40 years say they moved out of the town because they “didn’t feel safe”.

Trading as Lye Antique Furnishings – Paul and Cynthia Smith had devoted nearly four decades to the town but they finally called it a day a few weeks ago.

The couple are the latest to speak out about problems in the town which has been depleted amid growing concerns over fly-tipping, litter in the streets and side alleys, plus crime and rogue landlord issues in recent years.

Mr Smith, who started the business with his wife after being made redundant from his job as an industrial chemist, told the News: “It was getting too bad.”

He said they had lost customers as “they were too frightened to come to Lye” and the 69-year-old told how his 67-year-old wife “didn’t feel safe” when he went out.

He said: “Our back door was always unlocked but if I went out my wife said the first thing she did was lock the door behind me – she felt so unsafe when I wasn’t there.”

The couple started the business in Lye, where they lived back in the late 1970s, and they have operated out of various locations in the town before settling in a unit near to what was the Londis supermarket.

He said: “It was a lovely little place when we moved in. You could get anything you wanted.

“There was quite a nice little car spares place and a lovely jewellers, a couple of banks and two or three building societies but now everybody’s gone. We haven’t got a bank now. Lloyd’s was the last and that closed.”

However – he said: “The Romanians have dragged Lye into a slum area.

“The back of our shop was like a tip – a car park at the back was always full of rubbish and it smelled like an abattoir”.

He said the authorities have “done absolutely nothing” to help the town and he said: “Unless something’s done about the Romanians – it’s just going to get worse.

“I feel sorry for anybody having to put up with what’s going on in the town.”

The couple have now moved to Brierley Hill and have a unit on North Street industrial estate, off Baxter Road, close to another antiques business that was formerly based in Lye – Robert Harling Antiques – and Mr Smith said: “We’ve actually had a few customers come back to us.”