Arson is latest anti-social incident

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THE weekend’s arson attack is the latest in a long line of incidents of anti-social behaviour in and around Scarva Walk, residents have said.

As pensioners stood in the car park on a bitterly cold Friday night hoping no-one would be hurt in the fire and that their flats would escape damage, they recalled other incidents in recent years.

May Ogle, a 72-year-old widow, remembered her shed being broken into last year, and doormats being lifted from the front of her neighbour’s houses and set alight by youths who gather in the area after dark.

Brian Davies, a resident of the area for almost four decades, said he has lost count of the number of evenings he has had to go outside and chase non-residents from the area as they gather to drink, take drugs and cause annoyance.

The 65-year-old said, “I have taken a lot of verbal abuse from them. In this past two years it’s become a whole lot worse I think. There never used to be any trouble round here.”

Both Brian and May said they would like to ask questions of the Housing Executive, which owns most flats in that area.

“I just wonder about the type of people they are housing here,” he said. May said she was concerned that pensioners like herself had to live alongside young people who she said may engage in anti-social behaviour.

“I think it is neglect on the part of the Housing Executive, it’s careless to leave a flat like that empty for months. We could have guessed something like this might happen.”

A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said the flat was officially occupied at the time, although it seems no-one was in when the fire broke out. They also said they are currently investigating a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area.

The spokeswoman added, “Immediately the Housing Executive became aware of the fire at the property staff were on site to offer advice and assistance to residents and to assess the damage.

“The flats at Scarva Walk are classified as ‘general needs’ housing and are therefore not designated purely for the elderly or mature singles.”

The Housing Executive said they take the issue of anti-social behaviour seriously and are currently dealing with three repossession cases in the district.

“The Housing Executive will continue to work closely with local communities and other relevant agencies to address the issue and we would ask people to come forward and report incidents of anti social behaviour as and when they occur so that appropriate action can be taken against those responsible,” added the spokeswoman.

Responding to one resident’s complaint that her first floor flat does not have adequate fire safety measures, the spokeswoman said, “These flats meet all current fire safety regulations and indeed communal areas and walkways are inspected on a regular basis to ensure there are no obstructions or fire hazards.”