Exclusive: Yorkshire families ‘driven crazy’ by noisy neighbours

Just a fraction of noise complaints end up in court action.
Just a fraction of noise complaints end up in court action.
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FAMILIES across Yorkshire are being “driven crazy” by noisy neighbours, as new research shows more than 40,000 noise nuisance complaints were made in the region last year.

The vast majority of issues logged related to noisy neighbours, shouting or playing loud music in the home, followed by barking dogs and then errant car or home alarms being triggered. In the rural areas, bird scarers were also being blamed for disturbing the peace of some people.

Graphic: Cirrus Research

Graphic: Cirrus Research

Parts of South Yorkshire were among the worst for the highest numbers of complaints per 1,000 of the population - with Doncaster worst with 6,231 complaints over the 12 months covering a population of 302,400 - or the equivalent of just over 20 complaints per 1,000 head.

The figures, compiled by noise monitoring firm Cirrus Research via Freedom of Information requests from local authorities, place Leeds second with 12,295 complaints within its population of 751,500 – the equivalent of 16 complaints per 1,000 population.

While the fewest complaints were in Hambleton, rural areas did not escape the blight of nuisance noise, with Rydale seeing 177 complainants within a population of just over 52,000 (three complaints per 1,000) and Richmond having 195 complaints within its population of 53,900 (four per 1,000).

Thomas Shelton, marketing manager at Cirrus, which is based in Hunmanby near Bridlington, said: “We work with a many local authorities and housing associations which have to deal with the complaints daily about noise nuisance. They have to a duty to investigate each allegation, see if there is any substance, gather evidence and then take action. What one person thinks is acceptable could drive someone else crazy so noise enforcement teams have a difficult job at the best of times.”

Less than one per cent of the noise complaints to Yorkshire councils resulted in court action. Just 45 per cent of complaints regarding nuisance noise ending up being prosecuted or convicted.

Doncaster was the most likely place to be prosecuted with 23 ending up in court – over half of the county’s tally. The vast majority were resolved using mediation or a warning, with a handful of cases where officers seized the noise making equipment, such as TV’s and stereos.

Mr Shelton said: “We conducted our research based on complaints per 1,000 population to get a more accurate picture. You would expect a large city such as Sheffield to have one of the highest number of complaints with over 4,200 but when you look at the size of its population - relatively speaking, it is quieter than Rotherham and York.

“Elderly people are also more likely to complain as they spend more time in doors, and with more homes now having wooden or laminate floors and wall-mounted TVs, we are seeing more domestic complaints as there is less to insulate the noise within the home.”

Doncaster Council’s assistant director of environment, Gill Gillies, said the high number of noise nuisance complaints emphasised that local people know how seriously it takes complaints.

She added: “Prosecuting someone for noise nuisance is very difficult, but it is vital that residents do report this as our Enforcement team specialises in gathering evidence to prosecute for noise nuisance. We adopt a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, including noise nuisance, reflected by the 23 cases we have taken to court.

“Over half the nuisance noise cases taken to court in the whole of Yorkshire were in Doncaster, emphasising our dedication and commitment to enforcement and making Doncaster a nicer place to live.”

Since the January 2015, the Council has received 1,875 noise complaints, leading to 219 noise abatement notices being served, with 13 cases taken to court.

A Leeds Council spokeswoman said it was “clamping down” on noise nuisance. In 2014/15, the council issued over 534 legal warnings, seized equipment from 22 properties and secured three Premise Closure Orders.

She added: “This shows that we can and will crack down on offenders and we’d encourage anyone experiencing problems to contact the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team as soon as possible.”