This case involved two elderly couples who lived next door to each other and the grumbles had rumbled on and off since August 2006.
There had been a mountain of complaints regarding issues in the garden areas, a loud grandfather clock and the glare of an ornamental lamppost in one of the couple’s gardens – ‘a classic’.
Complaints had escalated into allegations of abusive language and minor threats. Once again this was a case where the usual ASB approach had had little impact and so it was felt that a restorative meeting would be beneficial.
The conference in August 2008 lasted for about two hours and for the first 45 minutes the atmosphere was fractious with name calling and allegations being thrown in each direction.
The facilitator patiently persisted and once the mood had settled it was possible to explore the issues and establish what harm was being caused.
During the meeting it was established that one couple had lost their daughter during 2007 and the residents had subsequently been taking medication which had made her volatile.
Her neighbour had started to lose her hair through a stress and was also on medication. Inevitably the implications on the health of both parties were significant.
All began to talk about the future and agreed to look forward instead of back. This lead to an outcome agreement as follows:
- ‘A’ would, by the end of the week, paint the clear lamppost panels that caused glare black.
- ‘B’, by the end of the month, would relocate their gazebo and in doing so not obstruct the neighbour’s view from their garden.
- Both parties would meet that week to discuss the relocating of the grandfather clock and adjusting the volume level so as not to disturb the neighbours.
- ‘A’ couple agreed, by the end of the month, to move an unsightly overgrown shrub from their garden which had caused a nuisance to the neighbour in the autumn when it had lost its leaves.
As the outcome agreement was being written up both couples began to reintegrate and began talking over a cup of tea and a biscuit.