New figures lift lid on Longford's anti-social behaviour woes

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Anti-social behaviour at vacant Portarlington house

Anti-social behaviour documents released to the Leader uncover the breadth and extent of complaints being made to local authority officials

Vandalism, intimidation, fighting, drug dealing and verbal abuse are among stream of anti-social behaviour complaints laid bare in housing estates across Longford this week.

The Leader has obtained exclusive access to internal local authority documents showing both the type and level of misconduct that’s being reported to local authority chiefs on an almost weekly basis.

They show a gradual rise in the number of complaints lodged with Longford County Council between 2015 and 2017.

Under requests filed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, harassment, street fights and property damage have become an ever increasing source of investigation for housing officers.

In one example reported at the end of 2015, concerned residents on an unnamed estate contacted Longford County Council on four separate occasions within the space of 48 hours.

In their submission dated December 30 2015, locals reported concerns of parties, drinking and disturbance with claims of unauthorised inhabitants and dumped rubbish being made the following day.

In January, a local resident in another estate reported that their house had been “attacked” and subjected to an attempted break-in.

The middle stages of 2016 saw the nature of complaints reported take a more sinister turn.

Two allegations of vandalism were recorded by the Council in March with property damage, fighting, drinking, noise and vomiting in the street all being detailed within a week of each other.

Last year however, saw an increase in both the quantity and gravity of anti-social behaviour complaints being made.

Drunken parties, abuse directed at residents, drugs possession as well as what has been described as “gang fights” all fell under the microscope of investigators last year.

The sheer scale of anti-social behaviour complaints being made to local authority officials has typically raised the spotlight on what has been done to counteract the problem.

In a statement, Longford County Council said despite the numbers of complaints lodged “no evictions as a result of anti-social behaviour or nuisance” over the 2015-2017 period.

Nonetheless, this newspaper can also reveal for the first time just how much in terms of public monies has been spent on restoring ‘void’ or vacant houses that have fallen into disrepair during the same timeframe.

Since 2015, Longford County Council has splashed out €1.23m on repair works to its existing housing stock alone.

The highest outlay came in 2016, courtesy of an overall spend of €506,705, some €80,000 ahead of the Council’s €426,535 figure and more than two thirds more than what was allocated last year (€297,686).

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