Complaints spiral over antisocial behaviour

ANTISOCIAL behaviour is causing “havoc” in Hawick and forcing many Teries to seek help from their doctor.

That was the message relayed to the leader of the region’s antisocial behaviour unit this week, as local councillors revealed the full extent of the impact that noisy neighbours are having on their constituents.

Kerr Scott, head of the Scottish Borders Council-based team, attended Tuesday night’s Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee meeting, at which he gave a presentation on the unit’s work. And although members praised the efforts being made, after hearing stories of townsfolk being prescribed tranquilisers and threatening to take the law into their own hands – Mr Scott was left in no doubt that people want more action to improve the lives of those affected.

“One gentleman has a life of hell with the people who live below him and is on antidepressants as a result,” stated Hawick & Hermitage member Davie Paterson.

And referring to incident diary sheets which councillors give to those complaining about problem neighbours, he added: “People’s lives are being turned upside down and it’s time something was brought in that brings an end to it much quicker.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall described similar experiences in his ward, and said the town’s representatives were being “bombarded”.

“Several people are on tranquilisers as a result of antisocial neighbours, and one constituent went out to their car at 2am to get a decent sleep, which is shocking

“Antisocial behaviour is causing havoc and is a big problem in this town.

“We are all getting bombarded with it.”

And sharing Mr Paterson’s frustration with the speed in which culprits are dealt with, he added: “Over the last four years I must have handed out hundreds of diary sheets, and one case is still going on. You have to go to the end of the earth to get an ASBO, and it needs more officers at the coalface.”

But comparing Hawick and Galashiels, Mr Scott informed the meeting that statistics prove the problem is not as bad as perceived. It was heard that of the 77 ASBOs active in the region, 21 were in Hawick and 22 in Galashiels. And of 34 cases one step from an ASBO – the next stage after mediation, face-to-face meetings and acceptable behaviour contracts – 11 are from Hawick, and 10 from Galashiels.

But for one angry member of the public, the process has stretched him to breaking point. He stated: “Sleep deprivation has been outlawed as a form of torture, yet it’s okay to be done to me. I’m not filling out any more diary sheets, and I’m ready to explode and take the law into my own hands.” And when the allocation of social housing and the human rights of the homeless was discussed, one lady blasted: “What about our human rights? I could tell you a horrific story that ends with my husband having a heart attack.”

Mr Kerr did reveal that discussions had taken place between housing landlords and homeless services in a bid to better manage where people are housed, but said: “There is no statutory obligation for them to share information.”

However, Councillor Ron Smith added: “I’m pleased about the greater involvement of the housing associations, they need to take more ownership of the problem.”