Demand for tougher line on nuisance neighbours

Rubbish strewn in gardens is just one problem associated with nuisance neighbours.
Rubbish strewn in gardens is just one problem associated with nuisance neighbours.

FIFE Council needs to make better use of the powers at its disposal to deal with anti-social residents.

That’s the verdict from a number of readers who have contacted the Mail to say they are suffering at the hands of nuisance neighbours.

They claim they have followed local authority guidelines over what to do by recording incidents and reporting trouble – which, in some instances, may have lasted for years.

But they say incidents are still continuing – and they are losing their faith in the authorities taking effective action.

Some Levenmouth residents are now discussing the formation of a community group, to which people could turn for support and advice.

Fife Council, however, maintains it is dedicated to taking the problem seriously.

It works very closely with other organisations, notably the police, in trying to resolve anti-social behaviour, which covers a tremendous range of topics, including problems between neighbours.

The authority has a detailed network of agencies and procedures to deal with various kinds of disputes, arising from harrassment, noise nuisance, rubbish in gardens, threatening and disturbing behaviour – involving private owners/occupants as well as its own tenants.

In general, according to its website, agencies could work together through sharing information to ensure Fife’s residents received the best possible response to anti-social behaviour problems “and that our efforts to achieve successful outcomes are quick, appropriate and sustainable”.

However, some Mail readers still feel decisive action is not happening, or taking too long.

People often felt isolated when deciding to report incidents, while stress and anxiety were big factors.

One householder told the Mail she had been driven out of the home she owned, simply because of all-night noise by council tenants who lived upstairs.

She was now paying for a private let – but still making mortgage payments on her unoccupied property.

She said she had regularly informed Fife Council, the noise nuisance team and the police about incidents. Mediation sessions were arranged – but the neighbours did not turn up.

She said the strain had affected her health and, because she had moved out, the case was apparently regarded as closed.

The woman believed more evictions should be considered.

“Fife Council is not using the anti-social behaviour legislation,” she added.

“It is not using its powers to follow through and put people out.”

Another resident said: “Good tenants, good neighbours need a voice and need action to stop this anti-social behaviour.”

Council remains firmly committed to tackling problems

DAVID Ross, Fife Council’s executive spokesperson for housing, communities and local services, said the authority was fully aware anti-social behaviour was a really important issue – and he wanted to hear from the readers who had contacted the Mail.

“I’m concerned that people think the council isn’t taking this issue seriously enough and would urge them to contact me with their concerns and I’ll investigate this with officers,” he added.

“Fife Council and Fife Constabulary work with a number of other agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour in communities through a balanced approach of preventative measures and enforcement action.

“But although this work is giving results, the council won’t shy away from dealing with people who won’t work with us.”

Cllr Ross said a number of stages were pursued when investigating complaints be it a council tenant, private tenant or owner.

However, if there was a complaint about a long-running problem, officers work with those concerned to build up a case.

“The council has a legal duty to provide housing for everyone and eviction is only considered as a last resort in exceptional cases,” added Cllr Ross. “The final decision is for a Sheriff to make.

“Other measures are available to tackle the most serious cases of anti-social behaviour, including the use of Anti-social Behaviour Orders and Closure Orders, both of which have been used effectively in Fife when required.

“However, for the council and its partners to respond to community concerns appropriately, we require residents to report incidents to the appropriate service and work with us to ensure an early and effective solution is found.”

More information was available in the council’s Local Offices or by contacting the Housing Advice Line on 08451 550033.