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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 188

Date:- 19 February 2005

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FAMILIES in Birkenhead on the Wirral who cause nuisance and misery to their neighbours will be offered a 'last-chance' to turn around their behaviour following a review of the country's toughest nuisance neighbour cases, the Home Office announced this week.

Intensive family support will be introduced in Birkenhead, one of the Home Office's 50 TOGETHER anti-social behaviour action areas, through a £25,000 cash boost. The aim is to bring relief to communities plagued by the small number of neighbours who cause havoc through anti-social behaviour.

Neighbour nuisance often involves both parents and children and can result in serious physical and emotional problems for victims and eviction for perpetrators. A review of 100 of the most difficult nuisance neighbour cases by the Home Office anti-social neighbour nuisance expert panel shows 39% of families and individuals targeted reported that enforcement action had helped change their behaviour for the better.

Of the cases seen, 66% were families and 25% had previously been evicted.  In 38% of the families, children were not attending school regularly or at all.

Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, said:- "Having nuisance neighbours may sound trivial to some, but the reality can be pure hell for the individuals and communities affected.  In the worst cases, the anti-social behaviour of one or two families can hold whole streets to ransom, causing residents to live in fear of vandalism, abuse or harassment, day in day out.

It is clear from the work of our expert panels on neighbour nuisance that we must now clamp down further on the problem families who, although small in number, cause disproportionate damage to their communities.

That is why we are investing £1.25 million to ensure that those parents who persist in letting their kids run wild, or behave like yobs themselves, will face intensive rehabilitation in 50 more areas across the country, backed by the threat of enforcement. 

The work of the nuisance neighbour panel will continue for another year and we expect more than 1,000 families to be targeted over this time with programmes that will offer them a 'last chance' to accept support and turn around their behaviour, or face the consequences. They will build on the package of measures, acceptable behaviour contracts, parenting orders ASBOs, on-the-spot fines and, more recently, plans to introduce compensation orders for damage by under 10s,that we have created to help restore neighbourhoods for the benefit of all.

The Government is committed to helping individuals, communities and agencies tackle the scourge of anti-social behaviour.  We have introduced tough new laws, improved protection for victims and witness, and are starting to see our action plan have a real effect in communities up and down the country." 

Honor Rhodes, Director of Services of the Family Welfare Association, said:- "The work of the nuisance neighbour expert panel has shown that when agencies commit themselves to working together even complex, longstanding and difficult cases of anti-social behaviour can be changed for the better by using a 'what works' approach, including intensive family and individual support coupled with unequivocal enforcement. These interventions improve life for families and whole communities." 

George McNamara, NCH Policy Advisor, said:- "Anti-social behaviour is a very complex problem and if we want to end the distress that it creates, addressing its root causes is vital.

From our experience working with challenging families, we know that intensive and tailored support for those with a history of anti-social behaviour enables them to re-connect with mainstream society. 

NCH believes that these extra resources are essential if we are to tackle the problem of nuisance neighbours and the decision to roll out The TOGETHER Approach will have a real impact on those families who need such support. 

This initiative offers a win-win solution. Families who need to address their behaviour can do so and communities affected by such behaviour, can enjoy an improved quality of life"

Intensive parenting programmes currently operate in 10 TOGETHER trailblazer areas. Services vary between regions but include the development of family behaviour contracts, where those failing to comply face reduced tenancy rights and compulsory parenting classes.

Key findings from the Home Office's survey of the first 100 cases seen by the neighbour nuisance expert panels are that:-

* 67% of cases were families - half of whom were lone parents, and the remainder couples with children;

* In 25% of all cases the perpetrator had moved into their current accommodation following eviction from social housing;

* 50% of cases involved threatening and intimidating behaviour, with noise, criminal activity, criminal damage and violence towards others being the other most common complaints;

* In 38% of the families, children were not attending school regularly or at all;

* 29% had mental health problems;

* 27% had problems relating to drugs; 

* Cases had been dragging on for many years, the longest standing case having lasted for 18 years.

* In 66% of the cases, follow-up showed that behaviour had improved and the problems curtailed. 

The survey also shows that many perpetrators welcome intervention:-

* 30% thought that increased family support had helped them.

* 39% considered that their behaviour had improved as a result of a warning, an ASBO, acceptable behaviour contract or the threat of eviction.

An independent survey carried out in the North West on behalf of the Home Office shows that:-

* 81% of people think that parents should be most responsible for clamping down on the yobbish behaviour of certain youths in this country

* 82% of people in the area think parents who cannot control the behaviour of their children should be sent to parenting classes

* 72% of people believe responsible parenting is important in reducing anti social behaviour and creating stronger communities

Recycling plant a first for Merseyside

THE CLEAN MERSEYSIDE CENTRE (CMC), the market development organisation for the recyclable materials, welcomed the news that Merseyside is now home to the UK's first, purpose-built garden waste recycling and compost manufacturing facility this week. 

White Moss Horticulture's new facility enables garden waste to be processed into peat reduced growing media, to provide a sustainable product for the horticulture industry. Family-owned White Moss' new development, which can annually process up to 50,000 tonnes of garden waste in peat reduced growing media, was built with assistance from the Government's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Nicola Ball, Organics Programme Co-ordinator at the CMC, explains why the development undertaken by Kirkby-based White Moss is good news for Merseyside and beyond. "Locally it will go a long way to help Merseyside achieve the 2005/2006 recycling target of 22%, which has been set by the Government.

White Moss' dual-purpose facility allows garden waste to be composted on the same site where the peat is extracted and then it is processed into growing media. This process eliminates the need for transport, making the end product cost-effective to manufacture"

Nicola added:- "Partial replacement of peat in growing media with green compost is great news for the environment as this will help to divert a significant amount of waste from landfill."

Paul Whyatt, White Moss Composting Manager, said:- "The technical hurdles of producing green compost of a sufficient standard for inclusion in growing media are now over come.

I firmly believe that with the correct processing there is no technical reason why green compost cannot be included in retail grade growing material at rates of up to 30%"

Steve Washington, White Moss managing director, said:- "Industry and government targets as well as pressure from retailers to satisfy customer demand to reduce the volume of peat used in growing media, combined with legislation to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill have presented White Moss with the opportunity to greatly expand our range of peat reduced and peat free products."

Steve added:- "What makes this project unique is that the driving force behind it is our desire to create a consistently high-quality product for use in horticulture. This is far more than a waste treatment operation. I believe that this site is a blueprint for the growing media manufacturing industry and will enable our customers to be able to offer consumer competitively priced, high-quality, sustainable products."

The CMC, a member of the Remade Network UK, is now helping White Moss to create further markets for green compost products. Surveys carried out by the CMC indicate that there is potential for a five-fold increase in the use of green compost in the region. 


THE SAFETY savvy could reduce their premiums by around 15% says the Charity. Most home insurance providers insist upon a certain basic level of security before they offer cover, however, Help the Aged Home Insurance is advising consumers that by implementing some simple, additional security measures in their homes, they could enjoy a considerable reduction on their premiums, as well as the peace of mind that making their property safer will bring. 

By demonstrating to an insurance provider that a home is more secure than average, the likelihood of the company having to cover any losses can be greatly reduced and consequently the premiums should reflect this. However, in order to achieve this consumers do not necessarily need to buy an expensive or complex home security system. In many cases, all that is required is the installation of one or more of the following: more robust 'deadlocks'; a simple burglar alarm; smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Moreover, some providers can offer premium reductions if the property is within a Neighbourhood Watch Area.

Help the Aged Home Insurance is encouraging consumers to check with their insurers to see how much money they could save by taking these precautions, as the level of reduction can vary significantly from provider to provider. 

Mark Christopher, Help the Aged Home Insurance, comments:- "At Help the Aged Home Insurance we recognise that older people are often more security conscious. Therefore our policies offer good discounts on contents insurance - as much as 15% - if customers have door and window locks approved by us and a burglar alarm.

Help the Aged also runs its HandyVan scheme, one of the Charity's community projects that aims to make the homes of older vulnerable people safer and more secure through the provision and fitting of a range of security and safety products. The scheme is aimed at those older people on low incomes and no charges are made for labour or for the products that are installed. As well as making their homes more protected, the HandyVan scheme can also help older people secure lower home insurance premiums."

Help the Aged Home Insurance was named a 'best buy' across all age groups surveyed, for the fourth consecutive year, according to the December 2004 edition of Which? magazine.


Children's 'Life After Stroke' honoured

EVERY YEAR, around 450 children under the age of 16 suffer a stroke, one of the top ten causes of childhood death. Whilst children tend to have better recovery from strokes than adults, they often have residual effects. The Stroke Association is acknowledging the courage of these individuals, with the Life After Stroke Awards on April 26 at the London Hilton.

The Life After Stroke Awards, sponsored by Pfizer, recognise the tremendous achievements and bravery of people who have rebuilt their lives after their strokes or helped others to do the same as a carer or volunteer. The Stroke Association has specifically created a Children and Young Person's Courage Award as part of this, to honour people aged 17 years and under who have overcome the effects of their strokes. The winners of all the award categories will be announced at the star-studded ceremony in April.

Jacob Goodier, 12, was honoured in 2003 after recovering from his stroke. His mother Michelle commented:- "Jacob was three, almost four. He was paralysed down the right side of his body, and was as helpless as a new-born baby. He still has some weakness on the right hand side of his body, but he can play tennis and run and walk. Jacob has won a national Child of Achievement award as well as a Life After Stroke award. We're very proud of him."

Jon Barrick, Chief Executive of The Stroke Association added:- "Every day The Stroke Association witnesses people showing incredible determination in their efforts to overcome the effects of stroke, including those who show true compassion and commitment in encouraging others to rebuild their lives by providing them with support as either a volunteer or carer.

All these people are champions in our eyes. It is vital to celebrate their incredible achievements, which can also act as a positive focus for all stroke survivors, their families and carers." 

To nominate a young person call:- 01604 623919.

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