Getting tough on nasty neighbours

A council is due to crack down on so called 'neighbours from hell' by setting up a team to deal with problems they cause.Braintree District Council, which spends a "significant" amount of time dealing with nuisance neighbours, has decided to take action against the problem.

A council is due to crack down on so called 'neighbours from hell' by setting up a team to deal with problems they cause.

Braintree District Council, which spends a "significant" amount of time dealing with nuisance neighbours, has decided to take action against the problem.

In the year from November 2002, Braintree District Council dealt with more than 197 neighbour dispute cases.

The main causes were rowdy children, persistent dog barking, noisy parties, drunken, aggressive or abusive behaviour. Problems were also caused when one of the neighbours is involved in criminal behaviour.


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The investigation found the problem is worst during the summer and at times when people drink more alcohol, including Christmas and major sporting events, such as the World Cup.

A national survey has found there is likely to be one set of neighbours in dispute in every residential street in the country.

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The council has carried out an investigation into domestic neighbour disputes to find out the causes, what action the council and its partners currently take, and any improvements that could be made to the process.

Next week the council's scrutiny panel will be presented with the investigation findings, which recommend an inter-departmental neighbour disputes officer team be established.

The team would include representatives from the council's legal, housing, environmental and community services to ensure better cross-referencing of information and action.

Braintree police, which has two new anti-social behaviour case workers who deal with nuisance youths and neighbour disputes, said alcohol is more to blame for problems between neighbours than drugs.

Braintree council's legal officer told the investigation she spends a "substantial amount of time" on bad neighbour issues and the workload is increasing.

Since 2001 the legal services department has successful carried out four evictions for nuisance and annoyance to neighbours and five people have been prosecuted for breach of abatement notices.

However, wherever possible, the council recommends neighbours resolve their problems through mediation, using the independent Suffolk and Essex Mediation Service (SEAMS).

The report recommends the council continues to provide £6,000 of funding a year for SEAMS.

Other recommendations in the report include the production of a council leaflet with advice on good neighbourliness to be given to all new council tenants; guidance for councillors on dealing with neighbour disputes; and the monitoring of a workshop for residents in Witham on dealing with conflict or handling difficult situations.

The scrutiny panel will discuss the investigation and report at its meeting on March 22.

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