THE misery of living in condemned properties is all too clear when you talk to the tormented residents of West Accrington.
Shop owner Nazir Shah, 51, has managed his Lonsdale Street newsagent's for 19 years, but is battling to save two decades of hard work.
He said: "I am £6,000 in debt and struggle to make £10 a day. The place is deserted. I have about 20 customers from the four or five streets around here. Several years ago the community was thriving, the business was successful and people looked out for one another.
"Now there is nothing but human suffering and misery. My health is bad because of the stress of trying to make things work. I open the shop at 5am and close at 8pm. At night I wake at the slightest noise because thugs are preying on the area. My car is broken into every month and derelict houses are burned out."
Mr Shah, who lives on the premises, added: "I am scared for my safety. Who is here to look out for me if something happens? Neighbours would have called in if I ever had trouble, but now I am on my own.
"The energy I put into this shop would make any other newsagent's really successful."
Pensioners Thomas and Lilian Liggins, both 78, have lived a few doors up in Lonsdale Street for 50 years. They feel forgotten by Hyndburn Council.
Thomas said: "Lilian and I raised four children here and have such happy memories. But the area is in such a dreadful mess that we're embarrassed to admit we live here.
"Lonsdale Street used to be regarded as a really nice area, people were happy to live here.
"And through no fault of our own we are stuck. Our community and sense of identity have been destroyed, and we are forced to live with it because we can't afford to buy something else."
Lilian added: "Some people have had their houses bought and been given the £30,000 relocation grant. But they aren't the ones who have been here for decades. We've spent half a century here and can't understand why we weren't dealt with first."
Vandalism blights the area and is a reason Joan Rawstron, 42, is desperate to leave. Speaking from her home just yards away in condemned Rutland Street, she said: "It's becoming unbearable. We were evacutated from our house when the next-door property was firebombed.
"It's soul-destroying to see the area decline. They put steel covers over the doors and windows to keep people out, but it doesn't work.
"The view from my house is of a terraced block stripped of roof tiles and boarded-up. I don't go out at night.
"And the prospects of leaving are bleak. Six people live in my house and the relocation grant won't be enough to buy somewhere else big enough. It's just terrible."