Disputes project launched

A NEW mediation service aimed at resolving community disputes has been launched in Hartlepool.

The free service which is open to all residents of the town, is being run by the Hartlepool Community Safety Team, which includes staff from Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Police.

It has been set up to deal with low-level, non-criminal and non-violent incidents, community nuisance problems and neighbour disagreements.

Nicholas Stone, the council’s neighbourhood safety co-ordinator, said: “We have 10 fully-trained and independent mediators who are locally-based and ready to deal with referrals.

“When people become involved in a dispute they can often become entrenched in their views, leading to an impasse.

“The mediators are able to use their skills to help parties find some common ground and, hopefully, resolve the problems that lie at the heart of a dispute.

“We hope that this service will prove popular, and help to improve life on the town’s estates for residents directly caught up in disputes and others indirectly affected by them.”

At least one of the parties involved in a dispute must agree to a mediation referral, and the other parties involved must not oppose the move.

Lorna Hilton, one of the trained mediators, added: “Residents can refer themselves to the new service, although we are also keen to work with residents’ associations and other groups across the town.

“If a residents’ association or other group would like a short presentation on how the service works I would be happy to attend one of their meetings.”

Anyone wishing to make a referral to the new service should contact (01429) 523100.

To arrange a presentation by Ms Hilton, groups can contact her on (01429) 855560.