Stag and hen party clampdown urged
12:16pm Tuesday 8th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Sleep-deprived Poole residents could "take the law into their own hands" after being disturbed at weekends by "naked butlers" and "prostitutes", a Conservative MP has warned.
Poole MP Robert Syms has urged the Government to clamp down on raucous stag and hen groups who besiege the affluent Sandbanks peninsula area in Dorset.
Mr Syms said that the so-called "party houses" were ruining his constituents' lives.
He said: " The reality is that we have to do something about this, because it's making people's lives a misery.
"Constituents are fearful on Friday afternoon to have a look at these homes and see the number of cars which have come in. They pray for rain because people stay inside rather than stay outside; they know there's going to be anti-social behaviour."
Mr Syms said some of the websites through which Poole properties were being advertised were offering a number of associated services, "if you are a hen party you can rent a naked butler, which causes some concern when they are serving drinks on a hot afternoon in the garden".
Mr Syms said in a Westminster Hall debate: "People, when they've drunk a lot, do cause anti-social behaviour, it is causing great concern to my constituents.
"I really think this needs to be acted upon, otherwise the situation will get worse and I fear that the anger of my constituents is such that some of them will take the law into their own hands, because they spend all their life working for a home and they find it's being disturbed weekend, after weekend, after weekend. It is running people down and they are very angry indeed."
Mr Syms said that one constituent complained about returning home one day, with his seven-year-old daughter, " to find that the house next door had blow-up dolls brought from a sex shop all the way around the veranda".
Another resident complained about "prostitutes being delivered well into the night", while a retired solicitor and his wife resorted to buying themselves a caravan "so that they can get out at the weekends and actually get a night's sleep".
Mr Syms said: "We need to nip this activity in the bud, because it is actually having a very detrimental affect on my constituents in Poole.
"After working so hard to retire in what they hoped was a peaceful neighbourhood and not living next door to either stag dos, hen parties, raves and sometimes the most outrageous behaviour."
Home Office Minister Norman Baker said new laws coming into force later this year would help local authorities deal with so-called party houses.
He said: " I believe that the new powers being introduced later this year, I believe, will allow councils and the police to deal with the kinds of situation that you have described this morning. But I want to be clear that these kind of short-term letting arrangements do not always result in anti-social behaviour."
Mr Baker said the additional tourism and boost to the local economy could also be a positive thing "and should be encouraged".
He added: "That's why these powers are flexible and enable people to make judgments on the basis of what they actually find."
Mr Baker said that the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 would empower councils to deal effectively with the examples provided by Mr Syms, on a case-by-case basis, acknowledging that existing legislation often left the police and councils f eeling " constrained".
"Many are overly bureaucratic and costly to apply for, with others so behaviour-specific as to make them inappropriate in all but the most straightforward cases. Nowhere is this starker than in the example raised today," said Mr Baker.
"It is clear that the current system is fragmented, complex, sometimes inadequate, and is not working for the communities in Poole and many other places - not because agencies don't want to help, but rather they can't help. This has to change."
He added: "The impact that anti-social behaviour has on victims and communities has to become central to the response. What may be considered anti-social in one case, may be deemed perfectly acceptable in another, and therefore the location is quite important in these instances. We have to give professionals tools that are flexible enough to adapt to each situation where anti-social behaviour is being committed - and that is exactly what we have done in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act."