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Canterbury comes under fire for its 'intimidating' night time scene

An art historian has branded Canterbury a Jekyll and Hyde city which turns from sophisticated and welcoming during the day to sleazy and intimidating at night.

Dr Michael Paraskos, who teaches art history at Imperial College in London, was speaking after a visit to see his mother at the weekend.

The 49-year-old lecturer says the historic city should be a byword for sophistication but is blighted by drunken revellers and anti-social behaviour.

Art history lecturer Dr Michael Paraskos says Canterbury is a Jekyll and Hyde city
Art history lecturer Dr Michael Paraskos says Canterbury is a Jekyll and Hyde city

In a letter to the Kentish Gazette detailing his dismay, he said: "Although Canterbury likes to present itself as an ideal destination for a weekend break, in reality it is a sleazy and intimidating place," he said.

"A walk around the city centre on a Saturday evening is anything but relaxing. Drunken groups lurch around the High Street, many of them stag and hen parties whose members assume every passer-by is fair game.

"Walk along the inner ring road and you will almost invariably be shouted at some drunk in a random passing car, while the bus station is like a lawless saloon bar in the Wild West. And, of course, there are never any police about.

"All this in an historic city centre that should be a byword for sophistication."

Canterbury has been branded 'sleazy'
Canterbury has been branded 'sleazy'

Dr Paraskos added: "Canterbury is a lovely place with a magnificent cathedral and a vibrant art scene. But the mood changes at night. It's a kind of Jekyll and Hyde place which might be OK for teenagers and people in their 20s, but perhaps not for people of my age.

"I know I will not be recommending Canterbury to anyone who asks."

His concerns are shared by Canterbury Society chairman Prof Jan Pahl who says Dr Paraskos worries should be taken seriously.

"I think many residents would recognise the atmosphere Dr Paraskos is talking about.

"But visitors are very important to Canterbury and it is vital they feel safe at night."

Canterbury Society chairman Jan Pahl
Canterbury Society chairman Jan Pahl

Caroline Hicks, head of property and regeneration said: "While we're saddened to hear Mr Paraskos did not enjoy his visit, we can't agree with his description of Canterbury as 'sleazy' or 'intimidating'.

"The city provides residents and visitors with a vibrant mix of night-time entertainment while promoting their safety and wellbeing, as evidenced by gaining its fourth Purple Flag award in March of this year.

"Judges described Canterbury as being a 'wonderful city...you must be very proud of it'.

"This is down to the hard work of many organisations, businesses and individuals, all working together to ensure people have a good night out in safe surroundings.

The city centre at night can be intimidating
The city centre at night can be intimidating

"The involvement of the police in this partnership ensures a swift resolution to any problems, and we and the Canterbury BID team work​​ hard to get the balance right between the different interests in the city centre, through initiatives like the Purple Flag and Canterbury in Bloom.

"We hope Mr Paraskos will return one evening in the future to experience our great mix of restaurants, pubs and clubs and change his mind about what a great city this is."

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