Downham Market house is shut in landmark bid to stop trouble

47 Glebe Road Downham Market, Issued with a closure order ANL-140712-085732009
47 Glebe Road Downham Market, Issued with a closure order ANL-140712-085732009

West Norfolk Council chiefs have been given a court order preventing a man from entering his home for six weeks to stop anti-social behaviour.

The order, which is one of the first of its kind in the country, was granted by Lynn magistrates on Friday under new powers granted to local authorities and the police.

Borough council deputy leader Brian Long said: “A small minority of people can make life miserable for our law-abiding residents. In this instance the nature of the disorder and the potential for further disorder has triggered this decisive action.

“In cases such as this it is important that we act swiftly to protect residents in the vicinity of the property.”

The closure order prevents the tenant, 30-year-old William Loasby, from entering the property in Glebe Road, Downham, until January 15, unless under the supervision of police or council officers.

It also stops anyone else other than police and council staff from entering.

The case is thought to be one of the first of its kind in the country to be brought under the new Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which was passed earlier this year.

The law allows authorities to seek closure orders on properties, preventing occupiers and others from remaining there for a maximum of three months.

Granting the order, presiding magistrate Ian Cooke said that, while the bench had sympathy for Mr Loasby, there was “no other way” to prevent disorder around the house.

The court was told that Mr Loasby was notified of the intention to bring the proceedings on Wednesday afternoon, while a formal notice was served on Thursday.

Emma Duncan, prosecuting on behalf of West Norfolk Council, told the court there had been several occasions on which loud parties had been held at the property.

In the latest case, described as a “10 hour rave”, complaints about the level of noise were recorded from 5.30pm last Friday, November 28, until almost 4am the next morning.

The court heard that a council noise abatement officer had described the case as the worst he had seen in eight years of work, while neighbours had pictures shaken from the walls by the din,

Mrs Duncan said there were also concerns about possible drug use and cultivation at the property and the risk of disorder associated with the parties.

She said there had been a “pushing match” during last week’s event and warned there was “not enough” police manpower in the whole of Norfolk to stop the gatherings once they had begun.

The bench was also told that police would not support council staff if they tried to seize sound equipment.

She added: “The neighbours are at their wits’ end and they deserve some relief from Mr Loasby’s behaviour.”

Mr Loasby, who represented himself at the hearing, said he was trying to turn his life around and denied using drugs.

He admitted he had not co-operated with a request to keep the noise down prior to the most recent gathering, claiming the neighbour making the request had been abusive to him.

But he insisted he had acted on a similar request made during an earlier party.

And, warning that he would be made homeless if the order was granted, he urged the court to impose any sanctions it wished short of closing a home which he described as “the last connection I’ve got” to his daughter, who has been adopted.

He said: “You can do what you want. I’m not going to have another party because I don’t want to lose my house.”

The order does not terminate the tenancy, but the court was told that eviction proceedings are likely.

Sue Stavers, managing director of Circle Housing Wherry, who own the property, said they “fully supported” the council’s action.

She said: “We work in close partnership and regularly exchange information with local authorities, the police and a range of other agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“Where problems persist and alternative methods have been exhausted, we will go to every length necessary to ensure that those committing anti-social behaviour crimes are brought to justice.”