Occupant allowed back into ‘closed’ Bognor Regis home

A police officer stands guard at 31, Ash Grove, Bognor Regis on June 5. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

A police officer stands guard at 31, Ash Grove, Bognor Regis on June 5. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

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A CLOSURE order on a Bognor Regis house has been partially lifted to allow one of the occupants to return.

The property – 31, Ash Grove – was officially closed by magistrates on June 5 under new government legislation to clamp down on anti-social and nuisance behaviour.

Council workers boarded up the front door of 31, Ash Grove, Bognor Regis on June 5 SUS-150806-112156001

Council workers boarded up the front door of 31, Ash Grove, Bognor Regis on June 5 SUS-150806-112156001

The unprecedented closure order – applied for by Arun District Council and Sussex Police – banned anyone setting foot in the property, with criminal prosecution for anyone who broke this rule.

However, at an appeal today (July 23) a judge allowed one of the original occupants to return to the building after a change in circumstances from June 5.

Judge recorder John Hardy QC said the earlier order made by magistrates was completely valid.

“Frankly, it must be awful for the neighbours and other inhabitants in that locality to have that going on in their midst and the council has acted quite appropriately,” he said.

The original closure order signed by magistrates. SUS-150506-190647001

The original closure order signed by magistrates. SUS-150506-190647001

The closure notice was issued in June under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, which gives police and local authorities far greater powers when it comes to dealing with anti-social behaviour.

The occupants of the property cannot be named for legal reasons. The appellant is the only one of the original occupants allowed to return.

The court heard since the enforcement notice there had been marked improvements for other residents in Ash Grove.

Arun District Council had warned against the occupant being allowed back.

“The problem that we anticipate is that if the appellant returns to the property, the property itself is a magnet for the local ne’er do wells,” said the council’s barrister Richard Egleton.

“My indications are that there are still people going to the property not realising that the party is over.”

Mr Hardy said the individual occupant going back into the home was not ‘free of culpability’ for some of the incidents, however he felt a change in circumstances meant there would now be less trouble.

“While the return to the premises might not be welcome in some quarters it can be said that if they – and they only – return to this premises as a specified person pursuant to section 80 of the 2014 act, it’s in our view likely that the diminished level of crime and anti-social actions will not become amplified.

“However, we’ve been concerned to make it clear that by designating them a specified person, we don’t give them carte blanche to act as they might otherwise wish to and they must be subject to supervision by police and the local authority.”

The three-month closure order on the house came into effect on June 5 and Arun District Council and Sussex Police have the option of applying for an extension at the start of September.

The court heard the occupant would have to abide by all the rules for the remaining six weeks of the initial order. The appellant’s lawyer Pierce Power said they were ‘treading on eggshells’ as the order could be refreshed in September.

The court heard the appellant had been ‘effectively homeless’ since the order was imposed by magistrates and had been ‘sofa surfing’.

The result of the appeal was that the order stays in force for the remainder of the six weeks, however the appellant is able to return, live and reside at that address from today onwards.

Police and council officers must be allowed access the property if they request it. If they are refused the matter will come straight back to court.

BREAKING NEWS: Bognor Regis house shut down in unprecedented court ruling.

Video shows moment Arun District Council boards up house

Thankful residents welcome Bognor Regis house closure.

Arun District Council says anti-social behaviour won’t be tolerated

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