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SCOTTISH PLANS TO TACKLE ANTI-SOCIAL NEIGHBOURS

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A package of new measures to deal with the problems of anti- social behaviour in housing in Scotland was today anno...
A package of new measures to deal with the problems of anti- social behaviour in housing in Scotland was today announced by housing minister Malcolm Chisholm.

Speaking at a COSLA conference in Edinburgh, Mr Chisholm said:

'This government believes that all householders are entitled to enjoy peaceful, safe domestic lives unhindered by the activities of their neighbours. However, noise nuisance and other inconsiderate behaviour can have an adverse effect on the quality of life of people living nearby.

'We have studied with interest the conclusions reached by the Scottish affairs committee after its inquiry last year into housing and anti-social behaviour. Its conclusions form the basis for the package of measures I am announcing today.

'We have already announced our intention to introduce anti- social behaviour orders in the Crime and Disorder Bill. However, we do not plan to put all our eggs in this one basket. We will introduce additional powers to tackle a number of other aspects of anti-social behaviour.

'By far the greatest number of complaints of anti-social behaviour are centred around problems of noise. We intend to introduce additional powers for the police to seize noise-making equipment which is disturbing neighbouring households.

'We have also looked carefully at the committee's conclusions on the grounds available to public sector landlords for pursuing eviction. We believe that measures recently introduced in England and Wales to allow eviction for criminal activity in the vicinity of tenanted properties, and to facilitate the use of professional witnesses should have an equivalent here and intend to bring forward legislation to that end.

'There has been a long running debate about the appropriate use of introductory or probationary tenancies in Scotland. I am aware of the concerns expressed by a number of councils and tenants groups about their widespread use. I share these concerns. However I intend

to introduce legislation to make it possible for local authorities, using their discretion in certain defined circumstances, to offer a probationary tenancy instead of a secure tenancy.

'Finally, it is our intention to suspend the Right to Buy from anti-social tenants while eviction proceedings are taking place, thus bringing the legislation in Scotland in line with that for England and Wales.

'I propose to bring forward a co-ordinated programme of administrative measures to deal with the problem of anti-social behaviour, including new Scottish Office guidance on housing and neighbour problems. The guidance will stress the importance of inter-agency and inter-departmental co-operation in tackling neighbour problems.

'I hope that our proposals will be welcomed by local authorities and indeed other housing providers and agencies with a role to play. But most of all I hope that this new package of measures will make a real difference to the quality of people's lives.'

NOTES

1.The Scottish affairs committee Report into Housing and Anti- Social Behaviour was published on December 18, 1996.

2.A consultation paper was published on September 12, 1997 seeking comments on tackling the unacceptable level of anti-social behaviour throughout Scotland through the introduction of a new `anti- social behaviour order'. The deadline for responses to the consultation document was October 9, 1997. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the government intend to include legislative proposals in the Crime and Disorder Bill which it plans to introduce in parliament later this year.

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