West Lancashire Borough Council tenants are being warned they could lose their homes if they behave in a racist or abusive manner towards their neighbours.

The message is being issued after a tenant, Keith Edwards, aged 51, of Alma Court, Up Holland, faced eviction proceedings after being convicted of racially aggravated public order, and resisting a police officer in the execution of his duty.

At Wigan Magistrates Court in September 2016, Mr Edwards was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and issued with a restraining order. He was also ordered to pay £200 court costs, £150 compensation and £115 victim surcharge.

Following Mr Edwards’ conviction, eviction proceedings were brought before Wigan County Court on 30 March 2017, and the Court granted a suspended possession order against Mr Edwards. This means even though he keeps his home, the authority can now exercise tighter controls over his behaviour. This means the Council can return to Court without delay if he is believed to have breached his tenancy agreement or the terms of the suspended order and ask the Court for the order to be made forthwith. In collaboration with the police and the Restraining Order, this will serve to safeguard the aggrieved as well as other members of the community from such racist and aggressive behaviour.

The Council worked closely with the Police and witnesses to obtain the information needed to take legal action.

Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey, West Lancashire Borough Council Director of Housing and Inclusion, said: “The case sends out a strong message to tenants that the Council will not tolerate racist behaviour or harassment of neighbours from people living in its accommodation. Should Mr Edwards fail to adhere to the order, which runs until 3 January 2020, the Council will have no hesitation in returning to the Court to ask for him to be evicted.

“Other tenants should take heed of this warning and make sure they treat people living on their estate with respect, or they could face serious consequences.”

For more information on West Lancashire Borough Council housing and responsibilities of tenants please visit www.westlancs.gov.uk/housing.