West Lothian neighbor dispute complaints drop after sharp rise during closures

Working in partnership is the key to resolving conflicts between neighbors and anti-social behavior in communities.

This has been the big lesson for Housing Officers in West Lothian as they come out of one of the most difficult times many will have experienced in their working lives.

The lockdown and holiday have seen an increase in complaints of bad behavior from neighbors, with neighborhoods such as Fauldhouse and the Breich Valley seeing some of the biggest increases.

The level of complaints is now starting to drop, a report to local housing manager Sandy Ross’ committee showed.

Mr Ross presented figures showing that complaints to the Safer Neighborhood team fell from 75 in April to 47 in June. Of those reports, five new cases were created in April, but only two in June, where officers felt the need to escalate initial complaints.

In his report, Mr Ross said: ‘During the Covid restrictions, officers worked on a mixed model doing work from home as well as work in the office and in the community for inquiries and to interact with clients.

“From their homes, officers provided telephone service to complainants and alleged perpetrators, as well as correspondence with written letters and e-mails. working in partnership.

He added: ‘The partnership work involves the local housing team, SNT Council officers and Scottish Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officers all working together to tackle anti-social behavior .

“If necessary, partners will liaise with colleagues from voluntary organizations including the West Lothian Youth Action Project, mental health counselors and private landlords to reduce antisocial behavior and support members of our community who have been affected. “

Chairing the meeting, Councilor Cathy Muldoon asked how the gradual return to normal working practices had affected the repair service.

“Are we up to date on repairs from Covid. Or do we still have restrictions on entry to properties, with social distancing and PPE ”? she asked.

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Mr. Ross said: “The repair process is back up and running. Building departments are making repairs, although the number of repairs since the restrictions were lifted have been huge as people report how much they saved during the Covid period.

“Building departments are having a hard time doing all repairs as quickly as they would like, but they are doing it.”

“So they’re back. They can go into houses and so on. That’s good, ”said Councilor Muldoon.

There have been cases where the repair department could not successfully contact tenants to reorganize work that was postponed during the lockdown. These tenants will receive a letter requesting to contact the council to arrange an appropriate date.

Executive Advisor George Paul for Community Services said, “Like many organizations, COVID-19 has dramatically disrupted services and caused a huge backlog. We continue to work on the issues that the lockdown and restrictions have had on the services.

“Staff have not been physically able to enter homes for a long time and at other times many tenants were not, understandably, comfortable with staff entering and leaving their homes to perform repairs.

“Even if the restrictions are lifted, work practices remain in place for employees who wear appropriate PPE.

“Since many restrictions have been lifted, customers are raising more repair requests and our team is processing those requests as quickly as possible, adding to the management of the backlog of outstanding work.

“We are using all the resources available to us and doing our best. We have increased the resources available by bringing in additional external contractors. We certainly appreciate the understanding and patience shown by the vast majority of our tenants.

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