RESIDENTS and traders put on a show of togetherness on Tuesday night in Lye to show officials they want their town back.

Trader Gary Farmer organised a community gathering outside Christ Church to show the strength of feeling among residents and traders who are worried about problems including littering, loitering, fly-tipping, rogue landlords and crime.

Mr Farmer, who runs Poshkutz pet grooming parlour in the High Street, said he organised the event as a call for action because "the residents of Lye have had enough".

He said: "There's no police presence, there's no enforcement on fly-tipping like there would be in Hagley or Stourbridge, business owners are losing trade every day, the intimidation in the area, it's just a nightmare."

Lye mum Vicki Jackson said people in the town want the High Street improved and for the elderly to feel safe once again. While her partner Matty Jay said the fly-tipping problem has led to rats running around.

Meanwhile - Sanawar Ali, owner of Harry's restaurant, admitted he has lost trade at his popular restaurant which has been in the town for 30 years.

He said: "Harry's was the place to be. The restaurant used to be chockablock; we used to fill about 25 tables on a weekend night - now it's about nine or ten.

"People feel very intimidated coming here. We've lost a lot of regulars."

He customers have told him "they don't feel safe" about walking past large groups of people, Romanian settlers who have become a fixture outside the church over the last few years, and he wants to see police using their powers to disperse crowds so that visitors to the town can feel safer.

He said: "An order should be in place but nobody wants to know. Police have said that because they are not doing crime they really can't get involved."

One Sunday he arrived at his shop to find people selling shoes and clothes right outside and he said: "In a morning people probably think Harry's doesn't brush up - there's constant litter."

Nearby Bengal Fusion is among a number of once popular restaurants in Lye's formerly famous balti belt to have shut up shop.

Halesowen News: Lye's war memorial, barricaded, and overlooking the now empty former Bengal Fusion restaurantLye's war memorial, barricaded, and overlooking the now empty former Bengal Fusion restaurant

Mr Ali said: "It's just got out of hand. It's not the Lye that I know. Lye was the balti belt. Now, we rely mostly on take outs."

But he said he remains confident things can be turned around.

He said: "I'm sure this can be resolved."

Halesowen News: The crowd at the community gathering in Lye on Tuesday August 20The crowd at the community gathering in Lye on Tuesday August 20

Lye councillor Mohammed Hanif said he would not attend the event which he branded a publicity stunt but he urged people in the ward with problems they wish to see resolved to attend the next councillors' surgery at Lye Community Centre on Friday September 6, from 5pm.

Mr Farmer said the event was "not a stunt" and he was "chuffed beyond words" with the turn out.

He added: "It shows what a community we have."

Rev Simon Falshaw, vicar of Christ Church in Lye, refused to comment on the gathering and angrily told the News to "be gone" before snatching this reporter's phone when she tried to take a picture.

Halesowen News: Rev Simon Falshaw (in a previous shot taken by the News)Rev Simon Falshaw (in a previous shot taken by the News)

He did eventually hand the phone back but spent the duration of the meeting in the church after walking off, waving his stick.