Council-owned houses that are used as ‘hideouts’ for anti-social and criminal behaviour should be boarded up, according to a Fine Gael county councillor.
Westport councillor Peter Flynn, who made his comments at yesterday’s Westport Electoral Area Committee meeting, said: “To me it is time we take real action and board up the homes. Whether the people are inside or out I don’t give a damn, it is time action was taken.
“I am not being discriminatory, we have to deal with the reality here. We can’t deal with the courts because depending on the sitting judge’s humour on the day, they may not always do the right thing. And the people defending them will say anything to get their so-called rights.
“It is time for real action because the system is failing us. People are frightened and annoyed with what is happening. This is going beyond the courts, somethings needs to happen,” he said.
Cllr Flynn raised the issue of anti-social behaviour after The Mayo News revealed in last week’s edition that three members of the Travelling community who were arrested in Westport following a series of incidents were staying with their uncle, who was served with a notice to quit his accommodation in November for alleged repeated breaches of his tenancy conditions.
The accommodation was provided by Westport Town Council, but The Mayo News revealed that the tenant was refusing to leave the house meaning the council will have to obtain an eviction order before he can be forcibly removed.
Cllr Flynn commented that although a ‘big hoo-ha’ was made out of Mayo County Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy when it was put in place, it had failed.
“I know we are not a law enforcement agency but at the same time we are involved whether we like it or not. We are involved in the welfare system for people who blatantly abuse the system. We have an anti-social policy, yet has anyone been kicked out of their house because of it?” he asked.
Director of Services, Martin Keating said that nobody claimed that the strategy would solve the problem of anti-social behaviour that it would be the ‘be all and end all’.
“They [strategies] are the tools which the local authority need to deal with the problem not the solution. The solution is a much bigger issue,” he claimed.
Mr Keating said that there were a number of issues relating to anti-social behaviour which do ‘not make the headlines’ but are reported and dealt with.
“[We] only see the tip of the iceberg … there is a lot more going on but we deal with it,” he added.
Cllr Flynn demanded to know how many tenants had been ‘forced out’ since the policy was in operation. Mr Keating said that forcing someone out of their home was the ‘ultimate sanction’ and that other sanctions were used to deal with cases.
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