Chatham has taken a pasting in the national press with it being branded the UK's "slobbiest" town where the only form of exercise is boozing.
To be fair, some residents themselves describe it as a "****hole", while it has long been known as the home of the 'chav' – the derisory term for tracksuit-wearing youngsters who sport blingy jewellery.
But there's a lot more to this historic corner of Medway as KentOnline found out when our reporters headed down there to quiz locals.
The latest slur against this proud town's once good name came after financial experts Forbes Advisor found it was the worst location in the UK for exercise lovers – scoring 14 out of 100 in the fitness stakes.
A busy commuter hub, Chatham – current population 80,000 – rose to fame from the mid-16th century when it was designated as a royal dockyard, Britain's most important centre for warship building and repairs.
Victor Easdown, who grew up only 100 yards from where he was sat in the High Street, felt things have changed for the worse.
The 82-year-old said: "All the shops are different from when I was a young man.
"The council has tried its hardest to keep it tidy, it is doing a good job but people are spoiling it.
"I would not say it is the worst place, you cannot blame Chatham. I have seen the changes, it has changed a lot but it is not all bad."
For a lot of young people safety is there main ongoing concern.
Tahaila Harrison, 16, explained: "I think Chatham is a ****hole. The police do not do anything about anything. There is no security.
"It is bad. When I am walking down I do not feel safe. I could walk down the street and get stabbed any moment."
When asked why she still comes to the town if that is the case, she replied it is the only place with any shops, unless you want to traipse to Bluewater which is unaffordable.
"You do get some nice people but it is one of those things. I could walk down the road and there is a fight," she added.
Not everyone has the bleak opinion of the town.
Mum-of-one Becca Hawe, 28, of Rainham, said: "It is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be.
"It does not really deserve it. I used to live on the High Street and I worked down here. We did not get that much trouble.
"It is quite quiet really. You get the odd people but it is not bad."
Owner of Mobile Conxtions, Dal Singh, said: "It is not invested in, they do not invest in Medway.
"A lot of people moved here from London which drives the house prices up but it does not benefit Medway at all. It makes it harder to live here.
"Chatham High Street used to be a really good place but I think Maidstone has taken over for people to visit. It's now not the best place. It has been left behind. It has not been invested in enough."
Gillingham resident Carol Hughes, 65, felt some of the people make it one of the worst places and told how she is regularly targeted by beggars.
She said: "I agree it is bad, what with all the shops closing. It is a joke really. I walk up and down here but I want to close my eyes.
"What can be done? I do not know. Some of the people make it bad and it is just shops opening and closing every five minutes.
"Who cares really? It needs a lot of money thrown at it." When asked what the good things were, Carol just laughed.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of prominent people from around the town who think Chatham's best days lay ahead.
Deputy council leader Cllr Howard Doe is very much one of them.
He spoke of the major investment being ploughed into the town in an attempt to make it Medway's 'city centre'.
He said: "This development will include the revamping of Mountbatten House above the Pentagon shopping centre to turn this into a positive residential icon with a restaurant at the top and splendid views of the River Medway, as well as including a new attractive retail space.
"Within the new complex there will be a modern healthy living centre run by the NHS. The regeneration will also include upgrading the much-loved Paddock open space.
"We will shortly take over and redevelop the former Debenhams building at the other end of the High Street. You can also take advantage of the Chatham Community Hub which hosts a variety of events through the year.
"We are creating in Chatham a brand new town centre with hundreds of new top-quality homes and a total refit of the Brook Theatre to provide cultural opportunities for local groups.
"Chatham is becoming a very exciting place to live and work and when the regeneration is completed the armchair critics will have to eat their words."
Opposition Labour councillor Siju Adeoye described the town as "a melting pot for culture".
She said: "You will hear different languages being spoken. The aroma of world food can be smelt as you walk past, sometimes you may get an invite to taste the spice and get to see beautiful art on walls."
Meanwhile, going back to the Forbes Advisor findings, health and wellbeing practitioner Natasha Steer defended the town's fitness reputation.
She said: "From a health standpoint, I have personally seen, or should I say smelt, a significant drop in smoking in the last five years, with lots of free advice being given through a designated stop smoking hub.
"There’s also a number of gyms within and near to the high street, with running groups often spotted in the area.
"Some compassion for those who have often been impacted by trauma and have turned to drink and substance misuse would go a long way in supporting more people in our community to be part of the community."
Lifelong resident Cllr Harinder Mahil slammed Forbes Advisor for "attacking" his town.
He felt it would be better to look at the cause of the decline – the 1984 closure of the dockyard with the loss of abut 8,000 jobs.
He said: "Articles like this are punching down when this is precisely the time its residents are really struggling and need a hand up.
"We hear a lot about levelling up the North, but we are in desperate need for investment right here and we are getting overlooked.
"As for the charge of being 'slobby' that's utter rubbish. It's exactly the kind of vague and unquantifiable word you would use to attack someone without giving them a clear way to refute it. There weren't any reporters visiting my gym."
Stephen Perez, is a member of The Arches "Chatham" Neighbourhood Plan, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life at the Luton Arches end of the High Street – one of the most-deprived areas.
He said: "Visually we have worked to change the appearance of the area and this can be seen via the flower baskets along Luton Road that we support with some being provided by Medway Council or large mural on Luton Arches we did together with Network Rail.
"In efforts to address air pollution and visual appearance we have planted 70-plus urban trees and created Medway first movable forest at Luton Primary. "
Shea Coffey is co-founder and manager of Medway Pride Radio – launched during lockdown.
She said: "As a member of the LGBT+ community who has moved to Medway from London, I can say that not only is Chatham actually safe compared to London. But there is a real sense of community, and I have been welcomed since moving here."
And David Stokes, chief executive of the Nucleus arts programme, describes Chatham as an "amazing" place to live and bring up a family, saying: "Despite what you see in some of the media, it is an amazing place to live.
"Yes, like many areas it has its problems, high street decline is common across the country, and this has been hastened by the pandemic, but it is not unusual in that. Chatham has so much going for it.
"We're less than an hour from London, but outside the very centre our town is green. I live in Chatham and I have two country parks in walking distance, as well as other accessible green space. And of course there is the beautiful River Medway itself."
George Atzev, who is the founder of the Future Chatham website, said: "Sadly, the recent articles in the national press were not balanced coverage and framed an overly negative depiction.
"They failed to recognise some of the great work being achieved in the town, particularly by residents and community organisations.
"Recent successes include the community-led Chatham Carnival earlier this month, which is already confirmed to take place again next year.
"A wider conversation about the future direction and vision for Chatham is certainly opening up and there's an appetite for positive change locally."
What do you think of Chatham? Is it the worst town in Kent? Comment below.