SWANSEA’S Mayhill has often felt forgotten but last week found itself the centre of attention when a ‘riot’ erupted that saw cars burnt out and bricks thrown at homes.

“Drugs, drink and nothing to do,” is how one mum explained a car being pushed down a hill, before igniting, and a large crowd, of mainly young people, chasing the police away.

The blaze started after the rolling car smashed into a parked car had to be put out by local residents as the fire brigade said it wasn’t safe to attend. Last Friday morning First Minister Mark Drakeford and Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the “unacceptable” and “disgraceful” scenes.

Few who live in Mayhill, or Waun-Wen Road where the rolling car had crashed through bollards, wanted to give their names but they were clear parental, and personal, responsibility had broken down on May 20 and they didn’t believe it was only teenagers to blame.

But many of those The National spoke to also said the area has been overlooked for too long. Complaints range from a lack of facilities for children to delays in responding to home maintenance in the ward where 56 per cent of homes are council houses and 37 per cent of the population aged 24 or under and a quarter are single parent families.

The part of Waun-Wen where the car was left to burn and a home came under attack, is in the neighbouring Castle ward. Both areas are ranked among the most deprived not just in Swansea but all of Wales,

Carl Mayo is a 35-year-old father-of-three who lives with his one-year-old child in Mayhill. His two older children live in another part of Swansea, and he has been campaigning for at least two years for play equipment to be restored to Mayhill Park.

Swings and climbing frames have long been removed and part of the park lost for a doctors’ surgery. There are plans to restore some play equipment but Carl says there is little information available as to when any improvements will be made.

“There has to be more stuff for children in the area and if they start with the youngest ones it might help keep them on the right pathway,” says Carl.

He thinks the abandonment of the park sends a message to the estate’s younger generations: “It just shows that they’re not appreciated and they then think there is nothing there for them.”


A group of mums in their 30s, who are all cousins who’ve grown up on Mayhill and are now raising their children on the estate, lament the loss of the ties that once bound the community together.

“The community centre used to do stuff, we had it all when we were nine or 10 and there was a lady, called Ann, who must be in her 80s or 90s now, who did a lot for the community organising trips and discos,” said one – who didn’t want to be named.

“She knew every kid’s name and still knows your name today.”

Another mum said: “My kids have got enough to do they go to football and boxing but there could still be a lot more and the community centre just seems empty.”

For the past week officers have manned a mobile police station on the estate. But there is anger from residents who feel failed by the force’s inability to intervene during the violence and that South Wales Police is another organisation that has neglected the area.

Some claim policing is heavy handed. One woman said her 10-year-old daughter was followed by a police car when walking with her 26-year-old uncle and claims officers previously made a 13-year-old boy remove his shoes during a search.

“Some wanted to get back at the police,” said the mum, who didn’t want to be named, and thought resentment towards police fuelled the disorder.

For Carl, who isn’t aware of tensions with the police, the issue is about more than bobbies on the beat: “There is a lack of police resources, we’ve only seen them this last week, normally you don’t even see PCSOs walking around.

“Police used to do blue light discos for the kids but when I spoke to the police they said they no longer do them because of cost, they used to have funding.”

Carl would welcome action to tackle off-road bikes that use trails in the area and plague the estate: “It’s an everyday occurrence. I can be crossing the road with the pram and someone will be pulling a wheelie – it can be on the road or the pavement.”

Mayhill sits above the city centre where a £135million indoor arena is under construction as part of a £1billion redevelopment.

But though within walking distance Swansea’s attractions feel far away: “What is there in town for teenagers apart from get told they can’t be there?

“What is there to do but shopping and they need money for that, I haven’t got it,” said a mum. “Swimming used to be free for the six weeks holiday but it’s all about money.”

Two friends, aged 17 and 22, sitting near the local shops also complain about a lack of facilities such as a concrete football pitch with no floodlights.

“They just put the money into town and not the surrounding areas,” said one. His friend agrees a lack of things to do is behind anti-social behaviour.

A car had previously been pushed down Waun-Wen and nearby the derelict Swansea Boys Club – burnt out last November – is a monument to a lost age and provision.

Alison Roach, 49, who works in the local convenience store and lives on Waun-Wen, says it’s a “tidy area” but agrees: “There’s nothing to do.

“If they had things to channel their anger and frustration you wouldn’t have this situation. There’s plenty to do in Swansea but a lot around here can’t afford luxuries, or send their kids to clubs, they are just getting by and are single parents.”

If the Mayhill riot reminded those in power of the area, its residents hope now to have their attention and not just condemnation.