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Out of town housing associations dump problem families on upmarket estates in Barnsley

Inappropriate: Problem families moved into communities like Darton cause problems for existing residents
Inappropriate: Problem families moved into communities like Darton cause problems for existing residents
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Leeds based housing associations have been accused of dumping “extremely difficult” clients in homes on upmarket estates in parts of Barnsley – causing problems for existing residents who have seen their peaceful environment shattered.

Details emerged as a recently appointed housing officer, who works on behalf of the North Area Council in communities across a swathe of Barnsley gave councillors an update on her caseload and the successes the scheme has seen so far.

But it was also revealed that as well as problems with tenants of private landlords – an expected issue as private renting has become more commonplace nationally – there have also been problems blamed on the policies of housing associations which operate in West Yorkshire.

Coun Roy Miller, who represents the Darton East ward, forming part of the North Area Council, told a meeting: “Housing associations from Leeds are packing up extremely difficult clients and placing them inappropriately on really upmarket estates.

“On one estate we have mainly bungalows and older people. These (new tenants) are people with problems. We have police arriving at all hours of the day.”

Housing officer Zoe Wardle, who is employed by the North Area Council to work specifically in that district, confirmed she is now liaising with housing associations in Leeds and across West Yorkshire because of the issue.

She has already been working with some of the families involved and told councillors she expects they will either be evicted or moved on in an attempt to find a resolution to the problems they cause.

Coun Phil Lofts suggested that councillors should be given prior notice when tenants who could be expected to cause problems were being moved into their area.

None of the associations involved were identified.

Since Ms Wardle took the job, she has dealt with 17 cases in the Darton East ward of Barnsley Council, 16 in Darton West, 27 in Old Town and 29 in St Helen’s.

At present she has around 50 ongoing cases, but they are usually long term issues which cannot be resolved quickly.

However, her tenacity in bringing cases to a successful conclusion was praised by councillors, who heard that some issues which had been a problem for years had been resolved with her intervention.

Most of the problems she has tackled have been around waste building up the gardens of rented homes, but others have included issues such as hoarding and neighbourhood nuisance.

Her role involves working with other agencies, including PCSOs and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, where appropriate, as well as encouraging private landlords to adopt clear contracts for tenants, rather than the semi-formal arrangements some have had in the past.

That makes it easier if action, rather than persuasion, is needed to improve tenants’ behaviour.