Service Spotlight: July 2024

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Service Spotlight: July 2024

Aberdeenshire Council Community Mediation Service

Aberdeenshire covers an area of 2,437 sq miles, has 19 main towns and has a population of around 262,690. Aberdeenshire Council have 13,000 council properties spread throughout the area, in towns, villages and remote rural areas.

Aberdeenshire Council have always been very proactive in their use of mediation to resolve neighbour disputes, and an outside organisation provided this for them for many years. However, in 2018 it was decided that an in-house service would be more cost effective, so they employed their first full-time mediator and along with service development implemented policies and procedures while adhering to mediation principles. The service was very well received by housing officers and referrals were high from the beginning, which resulted in a second full time mediator post being created. Due to the geographical size of Aberdeenshire, it was impossible for one mediator to cover the whole area as travelling took up so much time and as referrals were high it was quickly realised that two full time mediators would be needed to meet demand.

The service takes referrals from housing officers, environmental health colleagues, Police Scotland and Community safety and cover all tenures. Residents can also self-refer through the website. Housing Associations can access mediation services for their tenants but pay for this on a case-by-case basis. The referrals we receive can cover complaints about noise, harassment, boundary/property disputes etc. The biggest complaints we receive are around noise, as a lot of council properties in Aberdeenshire are old with no soundproofing, so this can make even everyday living noise difficult for some people to live with. Another common complaint is boundary/property issues where farmers have sold off land to private buyers to build houses and further down the line there can be issues with access roads etc, which can be quite complicated and costly to resolve legally.

We have an information sharing protocol in place and a good working relationship with the Police and other partners. We have a meeting twice a week where all Anti-social behaviour calls received by the police are looked at and information is shared to try and find the best way to resolve the issue. Many calls received by police relate to neighbour disputes and are not criminal, so contact details are passed to mediation and we can get in touch with complainers to offer mediation. If the complainer agrees we then contact their neighbour to see if mediation is something they would like to consider.

A lot of people we contact have no idea what mediation is and how it can help so we find it’s a good way to let people know there is a free service which can potentially help and stop the dispute from escalating any further.

Written by
Robert Lambden
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