City Council action on anti-social behaviour

Press Release: 29/07/2016

16 Water Lane, Winchester

Winchester City Council has taken decisive action to deal with anti-social behaviour at one of its tenanted properties.

A so-called ‘closure order’ has been served on the tenant Valerie Smith and other habitual occupant James Green at 16 Water Lane in Winchester following more than five years of nuisance and anti-social behaviour which have escalated in severity.

The property will be boarded up for three months while the Council undertakes proceedings to regain possession of the property, which is mandatory.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, the Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

This firm action is a last resort and such powers are used rarely, but it shows clearly that the City Council will not tolerate anti-social behaviour at its properties.

The closure option for disorderly property has been in force since the advent of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and this is the first case that the City Council has brought using these powers.

The case was heard at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Wednesday 27 July. Nine local residents complained and completed ‘impact’ statements while complaints were received from at least five more residents and the local business No.5 Bridge Street.

Housing Services first received complaints of nuisance from 16 Water Lane in September 2010. Initially complaints were about youths congregating outside the property and causing a general nuisance and disturbance.

The Council has continued to receive complaints of nuisance and anti-social behaviour and these reports have escalated in nature and severity including:

• Alcohol abuse and alleged drug-dealing from the property
• Aggressive behaviour, fighting in the street and foul and abusive language
• Bonfires and the deliberate setting alight of a sofa in the back garden resulting in toxic fumes, including fire brigade attendance to extinguish an out-of-control fire

Despite numerous visits and warning letters to Valerie Smith regarding the conduct of her tenancy, the warnings have been ignored and the nuisance has continued.

The most recent problems emerged in April 2016 and the City Council took the view that the only solution was to close the property to protect the needs of the local community.

Ms Smith and Mr Green have been offered support and given housing advice.