This neighbour dispute had gone on for 12 months prior to using the Restorative approach to try and make things better.
It involved two families who live on a general let scheme and live next door to each other in semi-detached properties. One party were a couple in their early 50’s and the other a couple in the mid 30’s but with three children in the age range of 6 to 17.
The complaints were substantial in terms of incident diaries and letters but evidentially very poor in terms of the nature of the complaints and evidence available.
The difference in lifestyle and noise was one of the issues. However, the main issue was that one family left their bin out the front of their property and the other parked their car too close to the other’s door (hence the bin).
Both agreed to an RJ conference to try and find some common ground and improve matters.
For the first 15 minutes of the meeting, which happened in March 2009, they produced photographs of bins and car parking amongst other letters and typed notes. Clearly both parties had been completely taken over with each other and totally paranoid of the others actions, which was causing great stress to each other.
After the initial facts were discussed both parties could see that they were causing each other distress with their behaviourand had lost sight of why they actually didn’t get along. Both agreed that whilst they would probably never be good friends they were come to an agreement to make things better and be able to live together.
Implications for the future
They agreed and signed an outcome agreement as follows:
- ‘C’ will, from now on, ask family/visitors not to park in allocated bay outside the others property.
- Both parties will, from now on, ensure both have access to, and use of, communal pathway between properties.
- ‘D’, from now on, to park their vehicle centrally in their bay so the neighbour can access their vehicle/path without obstruction.
- ‘C’ to immediately relocate the wheelie bin from its current location, as it can cause obstruction to the other property and environmental issues.
- All parties/visitors/children will, from now on, to be courteous to each other
Both parties were visited 2 weeks after the conference and appeared visibly less stressed than when they were first approached and discussions made to arrange an RJ.
The bin had been moved to the rear of the property and the other party’s car was parked centrally on their drive. The outcome agreement was signed off, and a meeting which took 2 hours had made significant progress in dealing with the case.
To date there have been no further complaints or problems with these neighbours.