Private tenant evicted by council
A woman has been evicted from a privately-rented home by a council after neighbours complained of anti-social behaviour by her visitors.
Rhonnda Cynon Taf council said the case against Michelle Neal, 38, was the first premises closure order in Wales.
The end-of-terrace house in Aberdare has been boarded up after magistrates heard weeks of abuse, threats and violence led to six arrests.
A neighbour said: "It made our life absolute hell."
The magistrates court hearing last Friday heard that neighbours had complained of continual anti-social behaviour as soon as Ms Neal began renting the Chapel Row property from a private landlord in February this year.
Police were called out 20 times, and a list of 29 incidents was put before magistrates after the council sought a Premise Closure Order, a power which became available to local authorities in December 2008.
Magistrates were told incidents included loud arguing and shouting, with demands for money, kicking of doors, punching windows, groups of young people outside drinking alcohol and blocking the entrance to houses, fighting and loud music.
A male visitor urinated over the footpath to another house and exposed himself, the court heard.
One neighbour, who asked to be named only as Mr Davies, said he and his wife made numerous calls to police.
He said: "There was shouting, fighting in the street. I've been verbally threatened, then it escalated to threats to damage our property and to burn our house down and kill our pets."
The court was told a sofa was set alight outside the property.
Mr Davies, 28, said the same night the male visitor was arrested for allegedly exposing himself, the family's car was attacked and £2,000 damage was caused.
He said: "I phoned the police so many times I've lost count. There was one occasion they were fighting outside the house. They threw a glass. It smashed centimetres from my head. It has just been like that."
Mr Davies was one of those who gave evidence against Ms Neal, who faced three charges at Aberdare Magistrates' Court relating to allowing the property to be the focus of persistent disorder and nuisance.
David Jones, head of public safety and protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf council, said the local authority had reluctantly taken out the landmark closure order due to the "extreme circumstances".
He said: "This is very much a measure of last resort. The visitors to the property were causing such problems to neighbours we acted to return that neighbourhood to quiet normality.
"Our officers tried to get the landlord to intervene but he was reluctant to do so. We would much prefer to deal with this through persuasion and mediation, but the landlord did not want to be involved with all of this."
Insp Steve Meek of South Wales Police said: "This is an extremely serious case and one which I hope will send out a clear message to all communities that we simply will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.
"Should this occur elsewhere then the culprits can rest assured that they will feel the full force of the law." THE BBC