Neighbours speak of antisocial behaviour

A Lowestoft flat belonging to a vulnerable man who was taken advantage of by an antisocial gang was officially boarded up for three months yesterday.

The flat in Burnham Way will remain empty over the summer after Waveney District Council was granted a closure order by Lowestoft magistrates.

As the council applied for the order, magistrates heard how the neighbours, many of them elderly, had been made to feel at their wits' end because of the gang's antisocial antics.

Over the course of three months the group of up to 20 youngsters, aged about 15 to 25, had taken advantage of the flat's 35-year-old resident, who is vulnerable and has been sectioned because of his severe mental health problems.

From February the gang held loud all-night parties in the Whitton estate flat, abused neighbours, threw rubbish out windows and rode motorbikes antisocially.

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Some of the girls in the group were also said to have offered sex for money.

During the application under the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 Victoria Nutley, on behalf of the district council, read out witness statements from neighbours.

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One was from a neighbour who said they could not get to sleep for three days because of the incessant noise from the flat.

In a sign of how desperate the neighbour was becoming the statement said: 'I don't know how much more I can take.'

Another statement simply said: 'Please help us!'

Miss Nutley said: 'The residents were at the end of their tether, to put it mildly.'

After the court case a 50-year-old resident, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke of his relief that the gang would no longer be able to make the lives of residents a misery.

He said: 'They were totally out of control.

'They kept chucking stuff out of the window and played music loudly. The music would go on until 1am and then start again at 4am.

'I am pleased that flat is closed. But I worry who will go in there next?'

On Thursday the council was granted a temporary closure order so the flat could be sealed off over the weekend.

The council had to prove the someone was engaging in antisocial behaviour from the flat, the premises was associated with significant and persistent disorder or nuisance and its closure would prevent further bad behaviour.

Rachel Tucker, the council's antisocial behaviour officer, was pleased magistrates had agreed to seal off the flat for the next three months - the first such order of its kind for the district.

She said: 'The residents have been through hell. Every time I went up to Burnham Way residents would approach me and ask for help. Today is a very good result for them.'

The council's application was supported by Lowestoft police, which had received more than 90 calls related to the flat over a three month period from February.

Sgt Penny Jones, from the south Lowestoft safer neighbourhood team, said: 'We are very pleased with the result from today. It has bought relief to the residents of that area.'

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