On Monday last week I was at one of my advice bureaux. I dealt with one person who had been beaten up by someone and then threatened with a fire bombing.
I dealt with another person who actually had been the victim of an arson attack. Both of these people live on estates that are mainly Council Housing.
Both of these people are victims of people known as "Neighbours from Hell".
It is completely wrong to say that all Neighbours from hell live in "social housing". It is also wrong to say that people who live in "social housing" generally are Neighbours from Hell. Even on the worst council estates, the majority of the tenantsare law-abiding people who respect their neighbours.
The reality is, however, that there are many problem families (the old term for Neighbours from Hell) who do live on council estates.
The previous government introduced one piece of legislation to deal with problem families. This was the probationary tenancy which means that new tenants have to behave responsibly at the start of their tenancy before they get a secure tenancy.
The current way of dealing with problem families involves taking them to court to evict them. In Birmingham there were normally a couple of other stages before that where first the council officers had to decide whether or not to take any action.
Then there was a semi-judicial sitting of the Tenancy Contravention Sub-Committee and finally (a couple of years later, with the wind blowing in the right direction) the issue goes to court.
We do need to have a proper judicial process before someone is thrown out of their established home because of their behaviour or the behaviour of someone they allow to live there. However, the time taken to deal with this is far too long.
If you are sitting in your living room having had a garden fork thrown …