LYE High Street is in danger of becoming a ‘cesspit’ and a ‘ghost town’ served by vigilante justice, if police and local authorities do not intervene.

Those are the chilling words of a High Street store owner, one of several concerned locals to speak out after a recent spate of violent crime added to the area’s worries.

The News has this year reported on claims of human trafficking, slavery, scavenging, threatening behaviour, theft and a hepatitis outbreak in Lye – with much alleged to centre around a growing Roma community.

One resident this week said tensions in the area were reaching new heights and police were last week called to two incidents of violence in the High Street alone.

Last Tuesday (May 29), Malachi McPherson, 18, of Lye High Street, was arrested and charged for robbery and possession of a bladed weapon in a public place.

He appeared at Dudley Magistrates last Thursday (May 31) and has been remanded in custody with a trial date set for Wolverhampton Crown Court on June 28.

The other, unrelated, incident occurred last Friday (June 1) at 8.45pm at a fruit store in the High Street.

Police said that when they arrived at the scene, a man was being detained by shop workers. A 67-year-old man was arrested for racially aggravated criminal damage but was released without charge.

The incidents have heightened locals’ fears and Gary Farmer, owner of dog grooming salon Posh Kutz, is worried the problems will continue to worsen.

Mr Farmer said: “I give it six months before the area starts turning vigilante. It’s turning into a cesspit.

“There’s no police presence whatsoever but I can’t blame the police because the government has cut everything back.

“The theft rate is going up. We are starting to get people sleeping in doorways.

“It’s a shame because Lye used to be a really busy village but now it’s like a ghost town. People only come here to get what they need, then they go.

“You can’t just put it on the Romanian community, there are problems with our own and a lot of drug dealing openly goes on around here and nothing is done about it.”

Lye resident Stuart Smith added: “Lye has been multicultural for a number of years now but cracks are starting to appear regarding communities getting on.

“The curry houses used to be thriving on a weekend but now people are staying away due to no longer feeling safe down there. Nothing appears to be being done to improve things.”

After the recent incidents, Sergeant David Skelhorn, from Stourbridge Police, said: "We do not tolerate knife crime and remain committed to doing all we can to keep our streets safe.”

Dudley Council declined to comment but Cllr Pete Lowe told the News he and fellow councillors were working with council officers on the issue.

Cllr Lowe added: “We are working with police and other parties to address a number of issues in Lye. We are encouraging people to contact us as well as other agencies with any areas of concern.”

Cradley and Wollescote councillor Tim Crumpton had previously claimed he had been 'virtually threatened' by a senior council officer when raising concerns about Lye, particularly the hepatitis outbreak, and allegations of gagging were made against Dudley Council chief executive Sarah Norman.