Charity responds to neighbour concerns

A charity facing complaints about unruly tenants has insisted it has strong control systems in place.

Barnabas Safe and Sound provides supported living accommodation to help young people find independence within the community.

However, complaints have been made to Morpeth Town Council about disturbance from one of its properties in Oldgate.

At its Planning and Transport Committee Coun Nic Best said: “There is accommodation for two or three young people there, and there may be visitors.

“I would not want to lose that facility, I would just like to see it operated in a more restrained way. It is my understanding that some of the residents are saying people should lose their tenancy, but I wouldn’t like to see that.”

Coun Bob Robertson agreed.

“That is a step too far at this stage,” he said.

“We need to ask what level of control there is because it is getting a bit out of hand. We need to take a measured approach.”

Barnabas Chief Executive Chris Menzies said that complaints are rare, but staff are on call round the clock to provide an immediate response.

He said: “There are two issues. One is how we respond when there is a call from neighbours, and we have an established procedure for that, but there is a secondary issue that people think these people shouldn’t be in the community. I think they have as much right as anybody else.

“If there is a complaint we can respond faster than any other landlord because we have staff available out of hours and if there is any anti-social behaviour then our neighbours know that we will come out and put an end to any problem. There is no excuse for anything to go on happening for an extended period of time.

“These are young people and you have to think about what is normal behaviour for young people living away from home for the first time. Where there are teething problems and a young person maybe doesn’t understand the requirements of their tenancy agreement then we remind them of their responsibilities.

“We have been known to evict a young person within the first 24 hours of their tenancy. That is extreme, but we do have that capability and will do that if it is required.”

However, Mr Menzies said that recent calls have been more about the sort of noise expected from apartments, such as doors closing and people going up and down stairs, while complaints about people knocking on neighbours’ doors were found to be caused by late-night passers-by.

“I don’t think we have a fundamental problem here,” he said.

“We provide accommodation for young people who need a bit of extra help to focus on their lives and future. We don’t accommodate people who need 24-hour support. If we had a member of staff in the building 24 hours a day that wouldn’t benefit the young people and it wouldn’t enable us to do our job.

“The young people need the responsibility of their own space to grow as individuals and the support we offer is to help them achieve their goals.”