Success in war on yobs as anti-social behaviour slashed

LEVELS of anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool have been slashed by as much as 43 per cent in one area alone following a crackdown on rogue landlords and problem tenants.

Councillors have hailed Hartlepool Borough Council’s selective landlord licensing scheme as one of the reasons behind the drop.

It comes after the council’s neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Forum revealed that complaints about nuisance properties has dropped from 99 incidents in the first quarter of this year to 48 in the last quarter of this year.

Police in Hartlepool say they always listen to residents’ concerns and have adopted a multi-agency approach to tackling anti-social behaviour.

Spread over six areas of town, the selective landlord licensing scheme makes it mandatory for landlords to register with the council in order to let a property, with penalties for those who do not comply.

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Labour councillors and former cabinet members Pamela Hargreaves and Jonathan Brash are calling on the council to extend the scheme to other areas.

The Cornwall Street area has seen the biggest reduction.

Since 2007-08, the number of incidents has dropped from 357 to 201 in 2010-11, a reduction of 43.7 per cent, there are no brokendown figures available for 2011-12.

Coun Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, said: “In the Cornwall Street area, as with other areas, anti-social behaviour has been a real problem.

“That is why we have campaigned hard to get selective licensing introduced.

“Residents know full well the problems associated with a minority of private landlords and this scheme has given us real powers and sanctions against anti-social tenants and irresponsible landlords.

“I am absolutely delighted that we have nearly halved anti-social behaviour since the scheme was introduced as I know that it is decent, law-abiding residents who will benefit.”

Other areas include the Carr/Hopps Street area and the Dent/Derwent Street area, which have seen 18.7 per cent and 21.7 per cent reductions respectively in levels of anti-social behaviour.

Coun Pamela Hargreaves said: “These reductions are first and foremost good for local residents who have been plagued by a minority of thoughtless tenants and irresponsible private landlords.

“We are taking tough action against those who make the lives of others a misery and I am delighted it is having this positive effect.

“We must never be complacent and as councillors we will continue to do all we can to see that these figures continue to fall.”

The selective licensing scheme was due to be extended last year to include a further 1,200 homes, but was delayed due to concerns over its effectiveness.

The scheme was first introduced in Hartlepool in 2009 and since then there has been 558 licences issued.

Last summer a consultation was launched with a view to extending it in nine other areas, but officers recommended it be delayed until they have assessed how successful it has been.

It comes after an audit review last July put forward a series of recommendations to improve the application, assessment, approval and enforcement processes.

Now both Coun Brash and Coun Hargreaves have called on the extension to be rolled out sooner rather than later.

Coun Hargreaves added: “These problems exist right across Hartlepool and all residents deserve the support and protection that selective licensing can bring and is already bringing in these six areas. The delay in extending the scheme should be ended now.”

Coun Brash added: “These figures show that selective licensing is working and improving the lives of local people.

“In Burn Valley I want it extended to the Elwick Road area, and indeed anywhere else that needs it, as soon as possible.”

Council bosses say the current model is currently being reviewed by officers.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “Selective Licensing has played a part in reducing anti-social behaviour in the town.

“Following a report to the council’s cabinet, the Selective Licensing scheme is undergoing a comprehensive evaluation to ensure we have the most efficient and effective practices in place.

“Once the evaluation is complete a further report will be going to the cabinet in September.”