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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 11:56 GMT
London full of 'dirt, yobs and bigots'
London skyline
Criticism of London has been dismissed as "anaemic"
London is a city full of yobs, bigots, dirt, homeless people and pigeons, according to a new Lonely Planet tourist guide.

The book also attacks Londoners' attitude to other people saying they would "no more speak to a stranger in the street than fly to the moon."

On the Metropolitan Police, the guide says they are "not always as colour-blind as people would like to believe".

But despite the criticism, Lonely Planet says the city is a "world-class" city and offers particular praise for the London Eye.

'Flying rats'

Some of London's most famous landmarks receive less than glowing reviews with Buckingham Palace described as "overpriced and disappointing."

The Trafalgar Square pigeons are called "dirty, flying rats," while visitors to Oxford Street have to "run the gauntlet of permanent 'closing-down' sales."

The guide says: "The number of homeless people in the streets is not just a stain but an adulteration on the rich robes of this, Europe's richest city."

But perhaps the most disturbing criticism is the claim that London is home to "pockets of bigotry."

The publishers have defended their work saying it is better for tourists to get the full picture rather than just a rose-tinted view.

'Dirty bits'

Lonely Planet spokesperson Jennifer Cox said: "We're saying where the dirty bits are so people can avoid them.

"If you're coming to London as a tourist and the first thing you see is dirt, homeless people and hundreds and thousands of pigeons, if you don't know to get beyond that you just think 'this isn't what I expected' and you don't come back."

Lonely Planet's criticism has provoked a similarly negative response from London politicians.

Oxford Street
Oxford Street is home to the closing-down sale
Trevor Phillips, the deputy chairman of the Greater London Assembly, said: "Any great city has a huge mixture of different things and you're not going to get eight million souls without some downsides.

"The criticisms sound a bit anaemic. These people want to live in Zurich I suppose where nothing goes on and it's always clean."

The guide does praise the Millennium Wheel which it says has "turned into a city icon and most Londoners love it."

But the attitude of those Londoners is not seen as one of the city's most attractive attributes.

The guide says: "When a yobo in a car - radio on full blast, mobile glued to the ear, indicator controls untouched - nearly runs you over at a pedestrian crossing and you protest, he dissolves into road rage as only Londoners know it."

Lonely Planet vs. London Assembly
The two sides meet on R4's Today programme

Click here to go to London

Big Smoke
Is London a bad place to visit? Send your views
See also:

10 Mar 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Europe's 'filthiest city'
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Travel guide paints grim picture
10 Dec 01 | England
London Eye aims to go permanent
21 Nov 01 | Wales
Wales shrugs off 'lonely' tag
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