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Lewis Hamilton’s ‘long journey out of the slums’… of Stevenage

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The leader of Stevenage Council has criticised Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton for saying it was a “long journey” to “get out of the slums” of the Hertfordshire town.

Hamilton, 33, made the comment about his home town during an on-stage interview at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, where he finished second behind Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.

Speaking to sports presenter Gabby Logan, the Mercedes driver had just been named among the nominees for the main prize when he said: “It’s been a really long journey, a dream for us all, as a family, to do something different, to get out of the slums.

“Well, we would say it’s not the slums, but just come out from somewhere and do something. We all set our goals very high but we did it as a team.”

Lewis Hamilton was interviewed on stage by Gabby Logan
Image:
Hamilton made the remarks during an interview with Gabby Logan

People of Stevenage shared their opinions on social media, and the new town’s local paper, The Comet, picked the story up on Monday morning.

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor, who has been given an OBE for her work in local government, tweeted: “Congratulations to [email protected]?? for his win at #SPOTY last night! Disappointing that?? @LewisHamilton?? chose to use this event to make negative comments about his home town. Nowhere is perfect but we’ll go high & say we are #ProudofStevenage.”

England para-badminton player Gobi Ranganathan replied to Ms Taylor’s post, saying he is “proud to fly the flag for #Stevenage”.

The Hertfordshire town, which is about 30 miles north of London, became the UK’s first New Town in 1946 and property prices are just above the national average, according to the Rightmove and Zoopla websites.

Hamilton was born and raised in the town, where he went to school with England and Manchester United star Ashley Young, and started go-karting there when he was six.

Britain’s richest sportsman has not responded to a request for comment or tried to clarify his remarks on his own social media channels.

He relocated to Switzerland in 2007 and then Monaco in 2010 – moves that he has since admitted were at least partly motivated by tax reasons.

Last year he was named in a leak of confidential documents as allegedly having benefited from a tax-avoidance scheme involving a private jet.

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