Council Deemed Wrong to House Autistic Boy Near Volatile Neighbour
Brighton and Hove City Council have taken full responsibility for causing distress in the life of a mother and her autistic son. An ombudsman’s report showed that the council should not have placed the family where they did in 2016. They were housed near a highly volatile neighbour who hugely disrupted their lives and caused distress.
Such was the extent of his actions, that she had even threatened to stab and kill the pair. The council have subsequently apologised for the inadequate housing they supplied, and have promised compensation and to improve in the future. They will pay the mother £750.
The neighbour had a long history of anti-social behaviour, spanning nine years. She had received 3 anti-social orders, and was clearly not a suitable neighbour for the family, especially considering the hypersensitivity of the boys emotional state due to his severe autism.
Ombudsman Micheal King spoke of how inappropriate the housing situation was: “This family were caused significant stress being placed in thoroughly unsuitable accommodation by the council, and at one point they were even split up because of the neighbour’s poor behaviour.”
He understands the struggles the council are under, but doesn’t see this as excusable: “While I appreciate the strains councils are under to find the right accommodation, particularly in areas of high property prices, they still need to ensure the suitability of the accommodation they are offering.”
Councillor Anne Meadows issued an apology to the family, accepting full responsibility for the damage caused: “We fully accept the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. We’re extremely sorry for the distress caused in this case and have apologised to the family involved.”
Meadows has made clear that the council are looking to set things straight in the future: “We’re taking action to ensure lessons are learnt from the mistakes made in this case and procedures are improved.”