Council may go to law to block a disgruntled resident's website

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The Independent Online
A SCOTTISH council is considering legal action to stop a disgruntled resident broadcasting to the world via the Internet that his village is a hellish haven for criminality.

Matt Rathney-Quinn has opened a website comparing life in his street in the West Lothian village of Addiewell to "a scene from a junk movie set in the ghettos of New York".

The website - called "Addiewell: A Total Hell-hole" - features photographs of young people allegedly throwing stones at Mr Rathney-Quinn's home. Other images apparently show young people drinking alcohol in the street, bullying children and using mobile phones to alert each other to approaching police cars.

"Life is a living hell here," Mr Rathney-Quinn writes. "Made so by the routine abuse of drugs and alcohol and the endemic anti-social behaviour displayed by the locals. Our personal safety is at risk where we live here. We are not able to walk the streets around our homes. Even running out of milk means a two-mile drive instead of a 200-yard walk to the local shops."

For some time, Mr Rathney-Quinn has asked to be moved from an area which, he says, locals call "Skid Row". He claims the local council has done nothing about his complaints.

He apologises to law-abiding citizens tarred by his accusations, but says to the anti-social elements: "This site exposes you for what you are, a vile cancer which has brought a once proud community to this point." He concludes: "I have never in my life seen a level of violence, criminality and sociopathic behaviour as I have witnessed in this tiny hamlet of 1,300 people. After this, Easterhouse [a Glasgow housing estate] seems like sweet suburbia."

This novel method of lambasting difficult neighbours has caused uproar in Addiewell, according to West Lothian Council. "We are considering the legal position," said a spokesman. "Addiewell is a respectable community with decent, hard-working people who have been deeply upset by the allegations made on this website."

However, although the website names an individual councillor who may be able to sue for defamation, experts suggest it may otherwise be impossible to suppress it. The police, who receive fulsome praise on the website, say they are not planning to take any action.

The website is at http:// freehomepages.com/addiewell/

t Fans of Coronation Street may soon be able to knock on the doors of their favourite characters for a chat by logging on to the Internet. The soap is poised to become Coronation Superhighway with plans to launch it and Emmerdale on the World Wide Web. Granada, the television and leisure group, which also owns London Weekend Television and Yorkshire Television, is planning a pounds 40m Internet launch for both soaps.

Trials of the website, to be called g-whizz.net are taking place at Granada Television's Manchester headquarters. On the Coronation Street site, called Coronation Street Confidential, fans will be able to walk along the street in cyberspace and visit any house, having interactive conversations with videos of characters inside. A spokeswoman said: "We're sure the site will be very popular with fans as it will be like having a one to one with the character, like their own private soap."

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