Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Councillor calls for stricter vetting and eviction procedures for social housing tenants

A local councillor has called for stricter vetting and eviction procedures to be carried out on social housing tenants after a rise in anti-social behaviour in a Bessbrook housing estate.

Voicing her anger and concern for residents of social and housing executive houses who say they are having their lives ruined by the drink and drug-fuelled behaviour of “a handful of thoughtless individuals,”   Sinn Fein Councillor, Roisin Mulgrew revealed she had spoken to the PSNI, Clanmil Housing Association and the Housing Executive as well as local residents, in an attempt to reach a speedy and satisfactory outcome.

The South Armagh councillor recently visited Dobsons Way, a new Clanmil Housing Association development in Bessbrook, and expressed her shock at seeing “beautiful new homes” boarded up.

“This is particularly difficult to understand when so many decent families and individuals are desperate for affordable accommodation and many have been on the housing list for years,” she said.

The Sinn Fein Councillor was keen to stress that the problems being faced were not exclusive to Dobson’s Way but were being witnessed and felt throughout the area.

“Last year the Bessbrook community came together after they witnessed a small rise in crime within the village. The message then and now is that those intent in criminal or antisocial behaviour are not wanted in Bessbrook,” she added.

“Bessbrook is a beautiful place to live, it has fantastic schools, a full range of shops and services for the entire community and transport links that are the envy of many in South Armagh.

“Homes in this area are highly sought after and as a councillor I am constantly being contacted by people desperate to live in this area.”

Ms Mulgrew urged Clanmil Housing Association and the Housing Executive to examine their vetting process for tenants and to ensure that those who have broken their tenancy agreements are removed immediately “so other residents can enjoy a safe and peaceful lifestyle.”

She appealed to anyone with concerns or information regarding crime in the area, in particular drug related issues, to contact the PSNI or Ms Mulgrew herself.  The concerned councillor has pledged to hold further meetings over the coming days and assured all residents that the issues raised “are being taken seriously and will be dealt with.”